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Full text of "This chance of noble deeds [electronic resource]: the life record of John V.B. Shrewsbury"

This Chance of Noble Deeds. 



3- 





This Chance 
of Noble Deeds. 



The Life Record of 

John V. B. Shrewsbury. 



BY HIS SON, 

H. W Shrewsbury 



" From scheme and creed the light goes out, 
The saintly fact survives ; 
The blessed Master none can doubt 
Revealed in holy lives." 

— Whiificr. 



ROCHDALE: "Joyful Nnvs" Book Depot. 
LONDON: 152, Flki.t Street. 



PRINTED BY 

W. ). TYNE AND CO. LTD., EDGELEY PRINTING WORKS, 

STOCKPORT. 



TO MY 

FATHER'S GRANDCHILDREN 

THIS RECORD OF A NOBLE LIFE IS 

AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED. 



" Shewing mercy unto a thousand generations of 
them that love Me and keep My commandments." — 
Exodus xx. 6 (R.V. margin). 

" I do believe that God will save all my children, 
yea, and grandchildren also. But that does not suffice 
me. I ask for His mercy, His covenant mercy in 
Christ, to be established with my posterity for all 
generations, even till the Son of Man shall come in 
His glory." (From a letter by the Rev. W. J. Shrews- 
bury to his son John). 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE. 

Chapter I. 

THE HOME IX KAFFIR LAND - g 

Chapter II 

WITH THE SONS OF THE PROPHETS - - - 18 

Chapter III. 

THE BOY TUTOR ------ 2 8 

Chapter IV 

CALLED TO PREACH - - - - 41 

Chapter V 

THE YOl'Xti MINISTER'S TRIUMPH 54 

Chapter VI 

THIS CHANCE OF NOBLE DEEDS - - - 65 

Chapter VII. 

HOME GLIMPSES ------ 76 

Chapter VIII. 

A SUPERINTENDENT'S BURDENS - - - 87 

Chapter IX. 

THE WELL-SPRINGS OF INFLUENCE - - 102 

Chapter X. 

SUNSKT AND AFTERGLOW - IO9 



This Chance of Noble Deeds. 



Chapter I. 
THE HOME IN KAFFIR LAND, 



TABLE MOUNTAIN bay at length. The 
stormy voyage had lasted three months. 
There were no seventeen-day passages, and steam- 
boat saloons for outgoing missionaries in 1826. 
But enthusiasm for missions ran high in Methodist 
circles. Congregations gave freely of their treasure, 
and brave men and women gave themselves. Of 
such were the young Missionary and his girl-wife, 
for whom now the splash of the anchor made music 
indeed, and the curve of the shore, and the white 
buildings gleaming in the sunshine of an April 
day, and the bold outlines of the flat-topped 
mountain a vision of beauty. 

The Missionary's name was already familiar 
throughout England — William James Shrewsbury. 
He had narrowly escaped martyrdom by mob 
violence in Barbados. The utter demolition of the 
chapel, the wrecking of the preacher's house, and 
destruction of his furniture, and, worst of all, of his 
library, had formed the subject of an animated 
debate in the House of Commons. Ministers and 
prominent members of the House had condemned 

B 



io This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

the outrage, and borne testimony to the noble 
character and true service of the Missionary. He 
was still in his early years. He had passed his 
thirty-first birthday on board. His wife was the 
daughter of a West Indian architect, and sister 
to Dr. W. J. King, whose death all Barbados 
mourned in 1851. She was but twenty-three. 
She had joined the Methodist Society when in 
her teens, to the annoyance of her family, 
for it was a small society and despised. One of its 
truest and most active members was a mulatto 
woman. And in this girl of gentle birth and intense 
religious zeal the Missionary found a wife whose 
affections and courage endured without a murmur 
mob violence, and stormy voyages, and the stern 
discipline of rough and perilous pioneer mission 
work. They bad two children with them, a merry 
two-year-old boy and a girl baby. Well might the 
Missionary fix his eager gaze upon the shore ; 
behind that mountain stretched a vast region to 
which he was to carry the first tidings of a world's 
Saviour. His soul burned with holy impatience. 
Well might the young mother fasten curious eyes 
upon the little town nestling under the mountain. 
This must be, she knew, the birthplace of her third 
child. And then, God willing, she was ready to 
take her little ones and go with her husband beyond 
the utmost pale of civilised life. 

" August 31, 1826. This morning, at half-past 
five, God added to my family mercies by giving 
to me a third child, and a second son. May 
my John Vincent Brainerd be wholly and for ever 




?-.,-;^.y 



Rev. W. J. Shrewsbury, /Etat 30. 



The Home in Kaffir Land. 1 1 

the Lord's. Amen." That is the exact entry, 
neither more nor less, in the Missionary's Journal 
for the date given. But private letters supplement 
the Journal, in which the writer rarely allows 
himself to turn aside from his record of missionary 
toil to note in even the briefest terms events of 
merely domestic interest. In correspondence with 
close friends he unbends a little, and a glimpse is 
given of a room in the old Mission House at Cape 
Town, and of the husband kneeling by his young 
wife's bedside in the early morning, and pouring 
out his soul in fervent thanksgiving for a life so 
precious spared to him, and in earnest prayer that 
this fair blue-eyed babe born on African soil — this 
missionary child — might live to achieve greatness 
in the Lord's service. 

On the 17th of September following the child 
was taken to the Cape Town Wesleyan Chapel. 
This building had formerly been a canteen, and the 
very spot where Barnabas Shaw stood when he took 
the little one in his arms and baptized him formed 
in earlier days the bar. " John Vincent Brainerd, 
I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the 
Son, and of the Holy Ghost." The curious initials, 
J. V B. S., have been familiar in later Methodism, 
and have puzzled many, so much so that once, at 
least, a letter was delivered through the post to the 
Rev. Alphabet Shrewsbury. But the names were 
well chosen, and the child who received them 
rejoiced to the end of his days that the veteran 
Missionary, Barnabas Shaw, baptized him ; that 
the act took place in a transformed drinking saloon 



1 2 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

(pledge of future triumphs) ; and that God had 
fulfilled the petitions offered that day by putting 
within him the devout spirit of John Vincent, his 
father's friend and pastor in boyhood, and of the 
Missionary Brainerd. 

And now the time was ripe for the Missionary 
Shrewsbury to take up that rough and toilsome 
mission work on which his heart was set. The state 
of affairs at Cape Town at that period was not 
altogether satisfactory. A clear head and a firm 
hand were needed to guide the infant Methodist 
Church of South Africa through perils that beset it. 
Barnabas Shaw greatly desired to retain the young 
Missionary at headquarters. It was an honourable 
and important position, but he would not accept it. 
"We have never been a self-seeking family," he 
wrote in later years, when counselling his son about 
an ^appointment. So the Missionary and his wife, 
with the two children who had crossed the sea, and 
baby John, first of their five Africans, turned their 
back upon civilisation. A qviick voyage of three 
days brought the family to Algoa Bay ; then 
followed a five days' journey, by ox waggon, to 
Graham's Town, and forward again, after a week's 
sojourn in that then oasis in the wilderness, to 
Wesleyville. At this little settlement the Missionary 
left his wife and children under the protection of 
native chiefs, whilst he journeyed further some 150 
miles N.W. to treat with the Kaffir Chief Hintsa 
for the establishment of a Mission Station at his 
Kraal. The negotiations were difficult and tedious 
on account of the envy and jealousies of neighbouring 



The Home in Kaffir Land. 13 

Chiefs. The Missionary's ardour decided the matter. 
After a delay of some months, without waiting for 
Hintsa's consent, he removed his wife and family to 
a spot by the river near Hintsa's Kraal. On the 
4th of June, 1827, he began to build a cottage. In 
a week it was finished, and the family left the ox 
waggon and took possession. And this rudely 
built hut, overlooking an African river, 300 miles 
away from the nearest white man's dwelling, became 
John V. B. Shrewsbury's first settled home. This 
hut was the nucleus of a little settlement. A chapel 
was built a few months later, and the Mission 
Station was named Butterworth, in memory of 
Joseph Butterworth, the recently deceased Secretary 
of the Wesleyan Foreign Missionary Society. The 
Mission continued to grow, and was becoming a 
flourishing station, when in the Kaffir war a few 
years later it was totally destroyed by fire. 

But shadowy pictures remained in later years of 
this African boyhood, and scanty indeed are the 
materials available for filling in the outlines. The 
Missionary's voluminous journals and correspon- 
dence contain the briefest and barest allusions to 
events of domestic interest or to the character of his 
surroundings. That his first home should be a 
mere plastered hut ; that his wife was the only 
white woman in all that vast district ; that there 
were only little black boys for his children's play- 
mates ; that he must leave his family for days and 
weeks together whilst going from kraal to kraal ; 
that on occasions when medical aid was absolutely 
necessary it could only be obtained by putting the 



14 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

whole family into the lumbering ox waggon, and 
making a toilsome journey to distant Graham's 
Town ; these, and a multitude of other details, 
were looked upon as the natural conditions of a 
Missionary's life, and beneath notice in a Missionary's 
record of his work. But a few things left a lasting 
impression upon the boy's mind. That mission 
waggon, with its long team of oxen, was never 
forgotten, and especially the nights spent in it when 
the oxen were out-spanned, and the fires blazed up 
all around, and the watchful Hottentots crouched in 
the glow, and the lad slept peacefully, though wild 
beasts lurked near, because, better than the watch- 
fires and Hottentots' guns, upon a mat stretched on 
the earth beneath the waggon floor, lay his father. 
Memories he had, too, of peaches and prickly pears 
and melons gathered without stint. And a recollec- 
tion*' of roasted caterpillars, which, when done to a 
turn, his little sister received in her pinafore, with 
the result on one occasion that her clothes caught 
fire, and weeks of agony followed the terrible burns. 
Against these dim impressions of early years 
two events stood out in clear relief. The one a 
visit from his father, and the first awakening of 
spiritual desires. The Missionary's elderchildren had 
been placed in a school at Salem, a small town just 
within the then frontier of the colony. Here on 
rare occasions, by long journeys on horseback, their 
father visited them. On this particular occasion 
John was four years old. But he remembered well 
that on the Sunday his father preached from the 
text, " God is Love," and the next day, just before 




Cape Town, South Africa, in 1826. 

(From an old print). 




Salem, South Africa. 

John V 15. Shrf;\v.m:urv'.s First School. 

(From an old print). 



The Home in Kaffir Land. 15 

he mounted his horse, the preacher took his two 
little boys on his knees and talked to them about 
God's love. " Then there came up in my soul a 
wish to love so good a God." 

The other event was the boy's first great trouble, 
and it left an indelible stamp upon both memory 
and character. He was nearing his ninth birthday, 
a sturdy lad, full of fun and frolic, and brimful of 
affection for his gentle mother. And on the 13th 
of June, of that year (1835) she died. Never could 
he forget that Sunday when he was taken into the 
room in the Graham's Town Mission House where 
his dead mother lay, and the kiss he printed upon 
her unresponsive lips, his boyish heart bursting 
meanwhile with grief. I, who write these words, 
sixty-three years later, have before me on the page 
a tress of her exquisitely soft dark brown hair, and 
I call to mind, how even in old age, on the rare 
occasions when my father spoke of that sorrow, it 
was with faltering voice, and eyes ready to over- 
flow. Some of the holiest impulses of his life, and 
much that was noblest and most tender in his 
character, may be traced back to the influence of 
his mother during those years of home life in 
Kaffirland. What she was cannot be better ex- 
pressed than in the Rev. W. J. Shrewbury's 
description of what an ideal Missionary's wife 
should be. The extract is from one of a long 
series of letters addressed by the Missionary to the 
Rev. George Jackson. She should have in addition 
to all ordinary virtues, " A rare ardour of spirit, a 
quenchless zeal for the salvation of sinners, and 



1 6 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

especially a longing desire for the conversion of 
the heathen." Again, " it is desirable that his wife 
should be healthful, and capable of bearing a good 
measure of hardship and fatigue, as well as ready- 
to practice self-denial in every possible way, and 
willing to forego the comforts, and if called thereto 
even some of the necessaries of life. If she cannot 
do without frequently reclining on a sofa, how will 
she be able at night to lie on a little grass on the 
bare ground? If she cannot be comfortable with- 
out a smelling bottle ready at hand, how will she 
meet storms and tempests without fainting ? A 
healthy, cheerful, contented woman, who can thrive 
on bread and water, will be comforting to her 
husband in the midst of privation and wants, when 
a person of another cast would greatly aggravate 
his troubles by 'bemoaning along with him their 
destitution of comforts in the wilderness." 

Such a wife the Missionary who penned these 
words found, and precious as she was to him as a 
wife, she was not less so to her children as a 
mother. She gave up, without a murmur, every- 
thing — home, friends, comfort, for the sake of 
Christ's kingdom, and when on that sad June day 
the young mother, still in her 34th year only, 
breathed her last, her premature death was the 
sacrifice of herself for Missions. 

But oh ! the pitifulness of that voyage home. 
That terrible voyage of eleven long weeks in the 
little brig. Well might the boy remember it. And 
especially he remembered the woman-like tender- 
ness with which his sorrow-stricken father cared for 



The Home in Kaffir Land. 1 7 

him and his six brothers and sisters. By day he 
watched over them with unremitting attention. At 
sundown, when the slanting rays made a radiant 
pathway across the darkening waters, he would 
take the little ones on his knees, and grouping the 
rest about him teach them to sing Bishop Heber's 

lines : — 

" Waft, waft ye winds His story, 
And you ye waters roll, 
Till like a sea of glory 

It spreads from pole to pole." 

And when at length the children drooped with 
weariness, the father weary also, undressed them 
and laid them in their berth ; then afterwards on 
deck, in the waning light of the evening, as well 
as the motion of the vessel permitted, he would 
write down on odd scraps of paper, for the easing 
of his heart, the consolatory thoughts and lessons 
of grace that came to him in those days of anguish. 
Then when the stars came out he went below, and 
lay through the night on the cabin floor in the 
midst of his children. Of sleep he had little, for 
the youngest was but a year old, and the eldest 
under twelve. And often in the night the boy 
John saw his father rise to soothe the fears or 
minister to the wants of the crying children. 

A long and weary voyage ! but at last the boy's 
eager eyes saw the white cliffs of Dover, and the 
home in Kaffirland became a dream of other days. 




Chapter II. 
WITH THE SONS OF THE PROPHETS, 



THE Wesleyan Methodist Conference of 1824 
assembled at Leeds. Dr. Newton was 
the President for the first of the four occasions 
on which he filled the office. In the afternoon 
of August 4th, from three to five o'clock, the 
Conference held an open Session. The interest 
of that service was divided between the platform 
and the front pews of the gallery Dr. Newton, 
president ; Henry Moore, ex-president ; Charles 
Atmore, Joseph Entwistle, R. Reece, John Gardiner, 
J. Edmondson? Jabez Bunting, former presidents, 
arfd especially the venerable James Wood, tenth 
president from Wesley, and now in the fifty-first 
year of his ministry — these made a platform the 
public might well gaze upon with interest. The 
gallery presented a curious contrast. Seventy lads, 
fresh-faced, bright-eyed, and all dressed alike, 
looked down with eager interest upon the venerable 
fathers of Methodism. They not only looked upon 
them, they addressed them. It was an open Session. 
From their lofty point of vantage three of the lads 
delivered orations in English, three in Latin, and 
one actually harangued President, ex-Presidents, 
and the whole Conference in Greek. The lads came 
from Woodhouse Grove School, one of the two 
establishments maintained by the Connexion for the 



With the Sons of the Prophets. 19 

training of minister's sons. The young Missionary- 
Shrewsbury listened delighted. Had he not himself 
a year-old boy, and was it not natural that there 
should float before him a vision of his Jeremiah, 
a bright, rosy-cheeked lad, like that young orator 
addressing the Conference in measured sentences 
of classical Greek ? The sight of those young faces 
opposite to the beardless divines on the platform 
stirred the fatherly feelings of the preachers. Some 
recognized their own boys in that living Septuagint. 
Many hoped to fill their places from their own 
stock. This is the record of an eye-witness, penned 
that same year whilst the spell of Conference was 
still upon him : " The boys looked charmingly. I 
never saw a more moving scene than while the 
boys stood up and delivered the appointed orations ; 
so many fathers among the preachers looking on 
their sons, and then hiding their tears as much as 
possible, which they could not restrain. It was a 
deeply interesting time." 

To the Missionary the occasion was so interesting 
that he took the opportunity of visiting Woodhouse 
Grove, some six miles distant from Leeds, that he 
might see for himself the training ground of these 
sons of the prophets. What he saw deepened the 
impression. Nine years later he returned from 
Africa, a widower with seven children, and straight- 
way sent two of his boys under the safe conduct of 
the Rev. William Shaw, to the Grove School. A 
little later their younger brother joined them, and 
in all the school there were no merrier and more 
frolicsome lads, nor any more conscientious, than 



20 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

Jerry and Jack and Joe. Sons of the prophets, 
those Grove lads, but full of animal spirits, and 
despite heredity, possessed of a large admixture of 
the old Adam. What games they had ! What 
lawless outbursts they fell into ! Pranks by day, 
as when they locked themselves in a room with an 
unpopular and incompetent teacher, and one lad, 
jumping upon his back and clinging for dear 
life, rode him up and down, and round and 
round, until the poor man was ready to drop 
with fatigue, and, when he escaped, quitted 
both room and school in sheer disgust. Pranks 
by night, as when a boy, on the eve of Com- 
mittee day, when the pantry was stocked with 
good things, stole quietly down, but being surprised 
by the governor's wife, fled along the corridor, and 
finding himselfeat the end in a trap, leaped into a 
flour tub ; then when he espied signs of uneasiness 
on the lady's part at his mysterious disappearance, 
and an evident suspicion of his objective reality, 
jumped out of the tub, and followed the retreating 
figure with a steady and deliberate pit-pat, pit-pat, 
until the lady fairly took to her heels, and vanished 
into her room, exclaiming, under her breath, 
"Lord, what have I seen?" Yes, they were 
frolicsome lads, and John Shrewsbury was as high- 
spirited and fond of fun as any of them. But there 
was in him an even good temper, a readiness to 
oblige, a quickness to learn, and a steadiness of 
application that made him a favourite with teachers 
and schoolfellows alike. One stand-up fight he 
had, but it was with a big bully, to deliver from his 



With the Sons of the Prophets. 21 

clutches a small victim. Of religious feeling- he 
had but little during these schooldays. But some 
of his friends were boys of intense conviction, and 
their influence told upon him for good. One who in 
later years entered the same ministry, and remained 
a life-friend, constantly found the five minutes 
allowed for evening prayer too short. When the 
signal was given for rising he would remain still 
upon his knees, and taunts and slippers would be 
hurled at him by irreverent companions. Once a 
missile struck him on the head, and he jumped up 
hurriedly, exclaiming, " Wait a bit, Lord, till I've 
whopped that fellow." Then, having administered 
a good drubbing to the offender, returned to the 
bedside and prayed on in peace. For John the 
five minutes' allowance was ample. Yet there were 
times when conscience, smote him, and tender 
yearnings stirred within his heart. In such 
moments he would creep under a desk, and from 
that hiding-place pray to his dead mother — the 
sainted young mother, resting afar off in her African 
grave — to help him. And only God and the desk 
knew the bitter tears that the boy, broken down by 
tender memories, shed there. 

During the first part of their school-life the 
brothers were cut off from home. Their father was 
appointed for some months to Boulogne, and after 
that to the Chatham Circuit. And for all practical 
purposes the distance from Leeds to Chatham in 
1 S3 7 was as great as in these days from Leeds to 
Rome. Their uncle came over from Barbados to 
Glasgow during that period, and purposed visiting 



22 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

his brother-in-law at Chatham, but having got as 
far as Leeds, and seen the lads at Woodhouse 
Grove, he found the journey too toilsome to carry 
through, and returned by water from Hull to Leith, 
and so back again by Glasgow to the West Indies. 
It was as painful to the father as to his sons to be so 
long separated. He wrote to the Governor, in view 
of approaching holidays, begging him to ascertain 
the coach fare for the lads to come home. The reply 
was that the cost from Leeds to London, exclusive 
of meals by the way, would be £3 10s. od. for each 
lad. As a cheaper route, he suggested coaching to 
Hull, and sailing from that port to Gravesend. But 
even this was beyond the preacher's scanty stipend, 
and the boys remained therefore during the holidays 
under the kind care of Governor Morley and his 
wife. It was hard, but it was harder still when 
John fell sick*; erysipelas seized him, and for a 
time it seemed as if the sickness would prove fatal. 
The unremitting care and motherly tenderness of 
Mrs. Morley saved him. For three weeks she 
scarcely left the boy for an hour. It was at this 
time that John's father married again. The lads 
sent a quaint message home through the Governor, 
begging him to give their love and duty to their 
new mother ; they would have said something about 
her in their last letter, but they did not know what 
to say. However, they now desired to thank their 
father for providing them such a mother, and were 
sure when they saw and knew her they would love 
her very much. And so it was. They were devoted 
sons, and years later, after their father's death, John 



With the Sons of the Prophets. 23 

took his stepmother to his own home, and cheered 
the sorrowful years of her widowhood with kindest 
sympathy. 

But if during these years home visits were 
impossible, there was the compensation of constant 
and full correspondence. I print with some hesita- 
tion, for long communications are burdensome to 
short biographies, a letter received by John from 
his father on his tenth birthday. An old-time 
perfume, delicate and sweet, lingers about it ; 
moreover, it lays bare, as nothing else could, those 
home influences which had so much to do with the 
fashioning of the lad's character, and presents the 
Missionary, whose visage to theworld often appeared 
stern, in that gracious and beautiful aspect which 
made him so lovable to those who knew him 
intimately. 

Brompton, near Rochester, 

August 31st, 1836. 
My Dear John, 

You are this day ten years old, which will be 
a seventh part of your whole life, should you live 
to be seventy years of age. Ten years ago I first 
held you in my arms at the Cape of Good Hope, 
and by your ever-dear mother's bedside offered 
up prayer both for her and you. Now she is gone, 
and in my solitude I pray for you alone. May 
Almighty God bless my son John all his days, 
that every 31st of August may be a joyful 
season, and may he dwell with God for ever in 
his kingdom. 



24 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

Just as yeur Mama expired, looking at me 
she said, " Take care of the children." I now 
think of her words, and you must hear her 
speaking to you in this letter, as I write it in 
remembrance of her dying charge. Imagine 
that she is by you and addressing you in these 
lines. " John," she would say, " be sure to meet 
me in heaven. Listen to your father's advice, to 
whose care I have committed you all. Fear and 
love God, and love one another ; flee from sin 
and follow Jesus Christ, and then the day of your 
death will be better than even the day of your 
birth, for it will be your entrance into life ever- 
lasting." These, my dear boy, were your 
mother's wishes while living, from the day she 
first nourished you with the breast until the end 
of her earthly existence, and they are still her 
wishes in Another world, and with them my 
desires also correspond. Make us both happy 
by remembering your "Creator in the days of 
your youth," and so God will not forsake you in 
riper years, or in the maturity of old age. 

This is a fit season to remind you once more 
of the injunction I laid upon you both, to retire 
for private prayer every morning, a quarter 
before nine ; at least as near that time as your 
School Regulations will allow, and be sure that 
you be punctual every day. With the reason for 
selecting this hour you are well acquainted. 
It is of great importance that you should now be 
brought to love private prayer. If you have not 
a room, it will not be impossible to find some spot 



With the Sons of the Prophets. 25 

or some method of praying unobserved, if your 
heart delight therein ; for as the proverb says, 
" where there is a will there is a way." I often 
look back with pleasure on the time I spent in 
prayer when a child, and only regret that I did 
not pray more frequently and more earnestly. 
Oftentimes the evil heart would prefer play to 
prayer ; but that must make you still more 
determined to retire, and convince you of the 
great necessity of praying that a heart so sinful 
may be made new. Oh, my John, I do indeed 
want to know that you thus delight yourself in 
the Lord, for then He will most assuredly 
"satisfy you early" "with His mercy, so that 
you shall rejoice and be glad in Him all your 
days." Who can tell, in the midst of so many 
changes that happen, what will be your lot, or 
where your dwelling in future life ? But if you 
have a praying heart it will be always well with 
you ; and at present you are just in the place to 
get such a heart, and it will be your own fault if 
you do not obtain it at Woodhouse Grove. I 
will not burthen you with a number of different 
instructions at one time ; this only do I require 
of you, that from your tenth year you become a 
child of prayer. And I now say to Jeremiah 
what I say to you. 

Be steady and diligent at your books ; the 
bee fills her hive with honey by being always 
employed. 

We are all well, and have a comfortable and 
pleasant house at Brompton ; and all unite in 

c 



26 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

love to, and prayer for, you both. Present my 
respects to Mr. and Mrs. Morley. 

I am, my dear John, 

Your affectionate Father, 

W. J. Shrewsbury. 

In 1838 Mr. Shrewsbury removed to Bradford, 
and his sons had the keen joy of frequent visits 
home. Yet once John wished rather to tarry at 
school. His home-coming was fixed for December 
14th. On the 15th there was to be a party at the 
Grove, and roast goose. John begged to remain 
for it. But the unbending Puritanism of his father 
could not recognize in this "carnal desire " a reason 
for postponing his return. If there had been a 
Christian reason to assign he would not have 
objected, but.he would feel ashamed to tell the 
Governor the real reason — John's desire toeatgoose. 
" It may seem but a little matter, yet it involves a 
weighty principle : learn in youth to correct a desire 
for luxuries ; self-denial and a holy indifference 
about food, so long as it is clean and wholesome 
become everyone who seeks to be like Jesus 
Christ." 

John's school term was now at an end. But his 
excellent conduct and untiring industry had won 
him so much esteem that an extra year was granted, 
and he was the first lad at Woodhouse Grove to 
receive this mark of honour. During that year 
his thoughts were turning to useful service, he 
was interesting himself in urging the then new- 
fangled principle of total abstinence, and he was 



With the Sons of the Prophets. 27 

prime mover in annual exhibitions held in behalf 
of Foreign Missions. The following is his exhibition 
circular : — 

Contributions to the Woodhouse 
Grove Exhibition. 

We, the Committee of the Woodhouse 
Grove Exhibition, most respectfully solicit your 
attention andsupportto theaforesaid Exhibition, 
which will be opened on the 19th of August, 
1840. 

Paintings, Curiosities — Naturaland Artificial, 
&c, &c, will be thankfully received by 
J. V B. Shrewsbury, J. Raby, 

J. B. Wilson, G. Allen, 

W Clough, J. Lewis. 

N.B. — After defraying the expenses of the 
Exhibition, the remainder of the money will be 
dedicated to the Missions. 

And now school-days were done. The question 
of a trade for the lad was on the carpet, when there 
came a request from a gentleman in the Isle of 
Man, that the Woodhouse Grove Committee would 
furnish from the 'senior scholars a young man to 
coach his only son. There would be no doubt 
as to the selection. John Shrewsbury was chosen, 
and he passed with a pure record from the sons of 
the prophets to face the wide world. 




Chapter III. 
THE BOY TUTOR. 



WHAT could be the matter with the lad ? He 
had left the dining table with a brief 
apology, and hurried from the room. He was a 
strong active boy, full of high spirits, and quite at 
ease in the Manchester home of his father's friends. 
Something clearly was weighing upon his mind. 
And little wonder. A less courageous lad than John 
Shrewsbury would have broken down altogether. 
He was barely fourteen, and already he was 
beginning to feel the burden of a man's work and 
responsibilities.* School-days were over. He had 
left home, and after this brief visit he was going 
forth to carve his own niche in the world. He 
was on his way to the Isle of Man to become a 
private tutor. A private tutor, and himself only 
fourteen ! It was a brave thing to attempt. In 
after years it seemed to him a foolish thing. 
As he sat at the table the meaning of it all came 
to him ; the complete separation from home, the 
uncertainty as to his fitness for the position he 
would have to fill, the difficulties to be faced, the 
responsibilities ; and especially the thought came 
to him that he had no religious experience to rest 
upon, and louder than the conversation of his 
friends, an inward and divine voice seemed to say, 
"You have left your father's roof; what will you 



The Boy Tutor. 29 

do if I am not your Father ? " A storm of emotion 
swept the lad's soul, and hurrying from the table to 
his own room he flung himself upon his knees and 
cried, " My Father, be Thou the Guide of my 
youth." 

The pale-faced lad, in a short jacket, put ashore 
at Douglas in the early morning after a tempestuous 
crossing of some fourteen hours, hardly looked an 
ideal tutor. But he took up his duties boldly, and 
soon won the respect of his pupil and the affection 
of the parents. All the island was ringing just 
then with the fame of a Mrs. Turnbull. She was a 
woman with a mission, and her mission was nothing 
less than to empty the Douglas pulpits. She had 
commenced at the Methodist Chapel the Sunday 
before John Shrewsbury arrived. At her peremptory 
summons the astonished preacher forsook his post, 
and standing in his place she poured forth a wild 
oration. It was quickly cut short, and the burly 
arms of the stewards dragged the woman away 
from the pulpit lamp brackets, to which she clung 
desperately. The excitement of those discussions, 
the novelty of his surroundings, and the pressure 
of a busy life, fully occupied the boy-tutor's 
thoughts, and for awhile his religious impressions 
lay dormant, for a short period only. Within a 
few weeks the mother of his pupil fell sick, and her 
sickness was incurable. There was living in 
Douglas at that time a woman named Kllen 
Brannan. She earned a scant)- living - by taking in 
mangling. But she was one of those poor of this 
world whom God hath chosen rich in faith. She 



30 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

o 

had a wonderful gift in prayer, and far and wide 
she was called by rich and poor alike to their bed- 
side when sick or dying. On one of her visits 
she saw the boy tutor, and her heart warmed 
to him at once. His pupil was not easy to control, 
the illness of the lady weighed upon him, and 
the lad was home-sick. The bright open face, 
with its frank blue eyes, wore a cloud. The good 
woman took the lad's hand in her own ; " Dear 
boy," she said, with simple directness, "are you 
happy in the love of Jesus ? " His confidence was 
won on the spot. He laid bare his soul to the 
humble saint, and that same day, in response to 
her gentle exhortation, he gave himself unreservedly 
to God. But it was dawn-light only yet. The 
next Sunday evening his new friend found him in 
the chapel praying earnestly within himself at the 
after-meeting, and whispered to him in passing, 
" Thou art not far from the Kingdom." Early the 
next morning, whilst reading his Bible, the words 
came to him, " Being justified by faith, we have 
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." 
Then the full light of day broke. The lad's first 
thought was to share his new-found joy with his 
father. He scribbled a few lines hastily in pencil, 
and sent them off by the first post, and that the 
thrill of gladness with which the lad scrawled those 
few lines thrilled equally the father's heart, is clear 
from the brief but significant entry in the Mis- 
sionary's Journal: — "July 28th, 1841. Heard 
good tidings from son John, whom God hath set at 
liberty." 



The Boy Tutor. 31 

The lad's mind had been well prepared for the 
godly advice and sweet influence of this mother in 
Israel, by the wise and tender counsels of his father 
when he left home. The following extracts are from 
a long letter of instructions he received immediately 
after settling in the Isle of Man ; a letter reverently 
and lovingly preserved to the end of his days. 

Instructions for my son, John Vincent 
Brainerd Shrewsbury. 

Bradford, Yorkshire, 

April 17, 1841. 
My dear Son, — 

I. As to piety. Get deep religion. Do not 
rest in desires, but pray earnestly for pardon, 
regeneration, and holiness. Keep out of company. 
Pray in secret many times every day. 

II. As to health. Rise early, but never sit 
up late at night Drink water. Keep your Total 
Abstinence Pledge. Never be laughed out of it, 
nor reasoned out of it. Keep it, and you will 
keep your health, your money, your morals, your 
reputation, and your religion. 

III. As to studies. The Bible is the first 
book. Touch no book till you have read a 
portion of the word of God. 

IV As to behaviour. Be a plain, simple, 
unaffected gentleman. A well-bred Englishman 
is the best behaved man in the world. Be content, 
if it ever accidentally happen that in any little 
matters you should be overlooked. This does us 
good ; we are all proud by nature, and that which 



32 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

• 

tends to humble us must prove beneficial, if we 
have only wisdom and grace to turn it to a good 
account. 

V. As to your duties as a Tutor. First of all 
depend on God for wisdom ; and whenever you 
are at a loss, make it known to Him in prayer : 
James i. 5. Secondly, study your pupil's 
disposition, and endeavour to make learning a 
pleasure, not a task. Get him accustomed to 
exercise his own mind, and rather put him into 
the method of discovering knowledge, than 
directly communicate it. 

And now, my dear John, I think I have given 
you such advice as will be serviceable to you, 
and without enlarging, I will conclude by com- 
mending you to the merciful care of that good 
God who haih fed me all my life long, and been 
Tny Father and my Friend from my earliest days. 
We can mutually meet every day at the throne of 
grace ; and by us you will be constantly remem- 
bered when we are bowing before the Lord. O 
may you live and die a thorough Christian, an 
Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. I 
desire nothing more. 

And shall ever remain, 
My dear Son, 

Your affectionate Father, 

William J. Shrewsbury. 
Eastbrook, Chapel House, 
Saturday morning. 

P.S. — Write me regularly the first day of 
every month, unless it fall on the Sabbath, and 



The Boy Tutor. 33 

then write the day following. Never learn to 
smoke or take snuff : two foolish and wasteful 
habits. 

Happy boy ! to be the recipient of counsels so 
wise and kind ; happy father ! whose son cherished 
them so lovingly, and followed them so loyally. 

By the advice of his new friend the young tutor, 
immediately upon his conversion, began to visit the 
sick and poor. The saint of the mangle was deeply 
versed in the mysteries of spiritual life ; she knew 
well that to put the light under a bushel was the 
surest way not only of hiding it, but of extinguishing 
it also. In her own extensive visitation she had 
become familiar with many haunts of sorrow, and 
she put her young friend at once in touch with 
families to whom he could carry welcome messages 
of hope and comfort. For such work as this a letter 
of his father's had prepared him. "The best 
College for a minister of the Gospel," he wrote, 
" is to be found in the garrets and cellars of God's 
sick and poor." 

It would seem that already a vague impres- 
sion was forming in the boy's mind that some 
day he would find his life's work in preaching the 
Gospel. In after years, when that desire had become 
fulfilled, there was no part of his work which he 
discharged with more signal success than that of a 
sick visitor. A faithful preacher, a perfect chairman, 
a genius at organization, he was above and beyond 
all, at his very best in his ministrations to the sick 
and sorrowing. In Kllen Brannan's school he learned 



34 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

lessons of incalculable value. The spirit of loving 
service which glorified this humble character rested 
in double portion upon her pupil, and throughout 
the long years of his ministry his presence in the 
sick chamber invariably carried a benediction. 

Some of the cases the young tutor met with at 
this period left an ineffaceable impression upon his 
mind. One instance determined for him for life 
the reality of a Divine providence and the efficacy 
of prayer. He visited a poor woman completely 
disabled with rheumatism, and living alone in a 
little cottage. She had been a dressmaker, but her 
crippled hands had long since made her work 
impossible. One frosty morning the boy tutor 
found the woman radiant with joy. The night 
before her store of coals had given out. She warmed 
and chafed hqr aching limbs by the dying embers ; 
then as the room grew colder, and the feeble glow 
in the grate was almost gone, she betook herself to 
her only resource — prayer. She put before the 
Lord her crippled and helpless condition, and her 
need, above all, of warmth. It was two o'clock in 
the morning. There came a knock at the unbarred 
door, and the next moment a gentleman entered, 
carrying a basket of coals. "I have brought you 
these coals," he said. " I could not rest in my 
bed thinking you might be in want of them." The 
cripple was full of thanksgiving, and as the young 
man listened to her story the fact of Divine 
providence was driven home, and he saw in this 
experience an illustration never to be forgotten of 
the words, " Before they call I will answer." 




The Boiled Bible. 



The Boy Tutor. 35 

Another of the characters he visited was the 
postman, the " praying postman" was his nickname. 
Everybody knew him, and everybody knew his 
trouble — a blind wife, and a terrible virago to boot. 
She cursed his life. When she found him at prayer 
she would drag him from his knees by his hair. On 
one occasion, coming home from a round of fifty 
miles, she placed before her weary and hungry 
husband for supper his boiled Bible, sodden through 
and through with long stewing. The poor man, in 
utter anguish of soul, went down into the coal- 
cellar, the only safe retreat from his blind wife's 
fury, and there, said he to the young tutor, " As I 
cried to God I was filled to overflowing with the 
joy of the Lord." It was a wonderful lesson to the 
young man in Christian patience and fortitude. 
And in the long run, the invincible gentleness of 
the praying postman conquered his wife, and he 
had the joy of leading her a true penitent to God's 
House. 

Unhappily the glow and beauty of these early 
experiences suffered eclipse for a season. The boy 
tutor fell into doubt, almost into despair. He wrote 
to his brother Joseph, who was still at the Grove 
School, and told him of the gloom that had fallen 
upon his soul. Joseph's reply I print at some 
length. To those who know him only through the 
Memoirs published in the Methodist Family Library 
it will be somewhat of a revelation. It betrays the 
very human element that existed in the writer's 
character. Yet in the eager entreaty of this self- 
styled unconverted boy, who begged his brother to 



36 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

get re-converted at once, and in his naive confession 
that he had stolen his brother's envelopes and lied 
about the matter, it is easy to see fore-shadowed 
that saintly maturity of a few years later, which made 
the memory of the young doctor precious to all who 
knew him. 

Woodhouse Grove, Rawdon, near Leeds. 

Dear, very dear, Brother John, — 

Having just perused your letter I have deter- 
mined not to keep you in distress any longer than 
I can help, and for that reason I write immediately. 
I shall begin this time with the thing that affects 
me most. I opened your letter with emotions of 
joy, but I had not read far before you informed 
me that you had lost the grace of God. Now, 
although I »am not converted myself, yet the 
*anguish that that statement caused is incon- 
ceivable, for I felt as it were the anguish that you 
would yourself, because I felt for you as a brother. 
Now I have often heard father say that he that 
has back-slidden from God does more injury to 
the cause of God than the most immoral of the 
human race. That occurred to my mind imme- 
diately. O, I entreat you, if you would spare 
my feelings and your own, to get converted again. 
O, do, do, do, for God's sake. O how will father 
feel it. But, however, enough of this, as it hurts 
my feelings ; but just this, if you do not inform 
me of your conversion in your next I shall feel it 
indeed, but do not deceive yourself and me by a 
false happiness, which I think St. James speaks of. 



The Boy Tutor. 37 

But now I make a confession which has pained 
me very much. When I left home I told you it 
was by mistake that I took your envelopes. Now 
that was a downright lie, and an enormous sin in 
the sight of God, and why did I do it ? Surely 
my brother would not speak roughly to me if I 
asked him for them ; oh no, he is too kind for 
that. I believe he would do almost anything for 
me, but do not think that I covet them now. I 
will send them all in my next, and I would do in 
this but I am afraid that the letter would be over- 
weight, as this will, covered with one of the 
things which caused me to sin, and which caused 
the most poignant anguish ; but, O forgive me, 
dear Brother, and I will never repeat the crime. 
But believe I never before coveted anything of 
yours, but that is no palliation of my crime. 

The affectionate entreaty of Joseph was not in 
vain ; the boy tutor set himself again to tread the 
path of life. His peace of soul, and joy in Christ- 
like service, came to him once more, and from 
that time to the end of his life he never lost the 
blessing. 

The tutor's duties were finished. His pupil 
had passed the stage of elementary tuition. He 
returned home. His father was now the second 
preacher in the Bacup Circuit. He was living in 
the preacher's house at Longholme, Rawtenstall. 
There was an opening for a small private school. 
The use of a room opposite the Chapel gates was 
obtained, and there for the next two years John 
Shrewsbury taught his brothers and sisters, and a 



38 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

few other pupils. Three generations occupied the 
house. My grandfather's father and mother had 
come to live out the eventide of their life with him. 
Fifty years later, when Rawtenstall had been 
divided from Bacup, and made the head of a 
Circuit, my father became the Superintendent 
Minister, and again three generations met in the 
old parsonage. I was then the second preacher 
occupying the same house in which my father and 
grandfather and great-grandfather had lived before 
me, and people spoke to my children of the 
venerable appearance of their great-great-grand- 
father, and the quaint dress and the orthodox 
Methodist bonnet, with its white ribbon strings, of 
their great-great-grandmother. The noble chapel 
adjoining the preacher's house was built during my 
grandfather':? residence. When he died, twenty- 
two years later, after leaving the Circuit, he was 
buried in the Longholme graveyard, and his 
tombstone stands close under the wall of the 
preacher's house. During my own residence a 
servant gave notice to leave because she had been 
told my grandfather's spirit haunted the premises. 
I was able to allay her fears by the assurance that 
if the report were happily well-founded the house 
was under the very best protection. 

This appointment to the Bacup Circuit was a 
surprise. My grandfather was expecting to go to 
York, and the change was not at first a welcome 
one. His remarks on the subject, in a letter to his 
son, offer a fine example for preachers suffering 
from similar disappointment. 















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LONGHOLME V/E5LEYAN CHAPEL, RAWTENSTALL. 



The Boy Tutor. 30/ 

August nth, 1 84 1. 
My Dear John, — 

I have, this morning received the Stations, and 
find that I am down for the Bacup Circuit, 
seventeen miles from Manchester. How far 
human prejudices and passions, on account of 
my freedom of speech and action in the cause of 
Total Abstinence have been permitted to sway 
the Conference in giving me this appointment, it 
is not worth your while or mine to consider or 
enquire, since the providence of God is what we 
chiefly regard ; so that looking beyond mere 
party purposes I receive my appointment as 
immediately from Christ, by whose grace I have 
been made a Minister of His holy gospel. I shall 
not go to my Circuit with a sour or discontented 
mind ; but, the Lord being my helper, I shall 
enter on my work with renewed vigour, and 
demeaning myself as becomes a Christian towards 
all men, I will labour to promote holiness and 
salvation among the people. But as to my being 
moved from my attachment to Teetotalism and 
the advocacy of its excellent and beneficial 
principles, on all proper occasions, that is quite out 
of the question. Herein I call no man master on 
earth. Blessed be God, I feel in my soul a 
perfect calm. So as I may but serve the Lord 
Christ, what does it matter as to place ? 

Writing a few weeks later on same matter he 

says : — 

I cannot but admire the providential goodness 
of God in choosing for me one of the most quiet, 



40 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

rural, and pleasant spots in England. I am 
more than ever convinced of the blessedness of 
leaving all my concerns to the fatherly goodness 
of God ; no matter how second causes work, we 
shall then be certainly guided right. Only let 
us be patient and wait to see the end of a matter ; 
for if we judge of Providence hastily we shall 
commonly be mistaken, especially in adversity. 

My grandfather's patient submission was richly 
rewarded. At Rawtenstall he passed three of the 
happiest years of his ministry ; at Rawtenstall my 
father spent two years on the threshold of manhood, 
drawing inspiration from his father's life and words ; 
at Rawtenstall, nearly half a century later, my own 
two years in intimate association with my father as 
his colleague in the ministry were a joy and 
privilege to thank God for through eternity. And 
rfever had Methodist preacher kinder and more 
generous friends than grandfather, father, and son 
found in that valley of Rossendale. 

For two years the young tutor, boy tutor no 
longer, held his little school opposite the gates of 
the Longholme Chapel, then he removed with his 
father to Yarmouth, and entered the Grammar 
School there. He felt keenly his own need of 
further education. A thirst for knowledge oppressed 
him. The boy tutor was lost in the earnest 
student. 




Chapter IV. 
CALLED TO PREACH. 



HIS first sermon left the preacher dismayed, 
distressed, and utterly dejected. Indeed, 
it was not a whole sermon. The half of it was 
never told. The chapel was a barn, the congregation 
a small gathering of villagers, the pulpit an extem- 
porized reading-stand. There could be no doubt 
about the preacher's earnestness. Very young he 
was, but full of zeal. His tall figure, and fair 
hair, and blue eyes, and mellow tones, and intense 
seriousness rivetted the attention of his hearers. 
For awhile all went well. Then came confusion 
of thought, a desperate attempt to preserve the 
sequence of ideas, a few more stammered sentences, 
dead silence. The congregation looked up 
expectant, the preacher looked down bewildered. 
Then he turned away hurriedly, and fled from the 
building. The service broke up abruptly, and kind 
friends sought the preacher with words of comfort 
and encouragement. But where had young Mr. 
Shrewsbury put himself? In his mortification he 
had taken refuge behind a haystack, and there, 
shrinking in shame from the hearers of his broken 
discourse, he resolved that never again would he 
occupy such a position. It seemed clear to him 
that whatever else the Lord might have intended 
him for He had never meant him to become a 

D 



42 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

preacher. How truly is Divine strength perfected 
in human weakness ! In after years the discomfited 
young preacher became one of his Church's most 
persuasive and soul-winning preachers. 

I have only the memory of my father's description 
to fall back upon for this incident. The exact place 
and date are uncertain. It seems to have happened 
in the Isle of Man. In 1845 the family moved 
from Yarmouth to Retford. The removal, so easy 
to effect to-day, was at that period a tedious and 
complicated affair. It is minutely described in a 
letter received by John Shrewsbury on his nineteenth 
birthday. ' ' We left Yarmouth according to arrange- 
ment at three o'clock on Tuesday, and arrived at 
Hull at ten the next morning. Without going on 
shore we removed with our luggage to the Gains- 
borough packet, which sailed about twelve, and 
"brought us to Gainsborough about four ; and a 
conveyance being ready we set off without delay 
the ten miles by land to Retford, where we arrived 
about six in the evening." 

John was at this time studying at University 
College in London. The liberality of Dr. King, 
his mother's brother in Barbados, opened out this 
opportunity for him. He applied himself to study 
with intense ardour. He lodged meantime, to help 
the family, with his stepmother's brother. His 
rooms were four miles from the college. The 
fatigue arising from those long daily walks (there 
was no underground railway), and his intensity of 
application, resulted after a few months in a com- 
plete breakdown, and weeks of prostration. From 



Called to Preach. 43 

that period, probably, dated a weakness of heart 
which became a " thorn in the flesh " to the end of 
his life.- 

The question of his life's work had yet to be 
settled. In his 16th year, whilst still the boy- 
tutor, John Shrewsbury felt within himself a strong 
desire to become a minister, but it lay dormant 
awhile. Now it revived again. Little wonder that 
he felt the spell of gracious influences. He 
inherited the prayers of three generations. The 
very letter just quoted conveyed not only loving 
greetings, but wise counsels also, and the stimulus 
of tender encouragement. " You are now fast 
approaching to man's estate, and we shall anxiously 
watch your future goings, as, if you are permitted 
to live, so very much will depend on the next four 
or five years. Your character will then take its 
mature and ripe form, and I pray God it may 
answer to that most exalted character which in a 
former age was given of one by Him who knoweth 
what is in man : ' Behold an Israelite indeed, in 
whom there is no guile.' Nothing short of perfection 
must satisfy you. . . To God's care and 

blessing we have just now unitedly commended 
you. It was your mother's turn to pray, and her 
prayer for you was beautiful and full of simple 
piety. A mother praising God in Heaven, and one 
who prays often for you on earth, with other 
kindred, surely blessings will descend abundantly 
and rest upon you. Nor should I forget to mention 
your grandmother's eminently devotional spirit last 
evening in family worship. The Psalm in course 



44 Tkis a Chance of Noble Deeds. 

of reading was the 42nd, and that clause of it, 
'And my prayer unto the God of my life,' so 
deeply affected her, that for some moments we all 
sat in silence till she was able to proceed. In prayer 
a holy unction rested upon her, and you had your full 
share of her pious benedictions." 

This is but a sample of scores of letters written 

in the same strain of faithful and loving admonition, 

relieved at times by touches of dry humour and 

caustic criticism. Alas, not a single reply exists. 

My father's home letters came into his hands again 

at his father's death, and whilst with a filial 

reverence, that grew ever deeper with his own 

advancing years, he preserved carefully all he 

received in this correspondence, he has destroyed 

with a ruthless modesty all that he wrote in answer. 

When he begged his father, as age crept on, to 

draw up an autobiography, or at least to put him in 

possession of material to write his life, the veteran 

missionary steadily refused. " Let me alone," he 

said, "I have made noise enough in my time." 

In the same spirit my father has done his utmost 

by the destruction of his own letters, and diaries, 

and memoranda to make impossible the loving 

labour of setting down his life's record. It seems 

clear, however, that all thoughts of the ministry 

passed from him for awhile. His uncle would have 

liked him go through a medical training, with a 

view to joining him ultimately in Barbados. A 

little later his own mind was set on law. Then his 

first desire to preach sprang up again. He was put 

upon the Lambeth Circuit plan by the Rev. 



Called to Preach. 45 

Jonathan Crowther, and entered into the work 
with ardour, preaching not only on Sundays but on 
week nights also.. But clouds arose. Had he 
received a genuine call to preach ? The doubt 
caused much distress of mind. His uncle, too, sent 
from the West Indies a vigorous protest. He was 
providing him with funds for a collegiate course, 
and that he should neglect that primary object for 
preaching "could not be pleasing either to Provi- 
dence or his uncle." Then, too, the question arose, 
if he were indeed called to preach, to what ministry 
shouldhejoin himself? His thoughts turned strongly 
at that time to the Established Church. He had seen 
a Methodist preacher's life from the inside, and 
seen so, much stage effect is lost. 

The triennial removals, the exacting discipline, 
the poverty, above all, the terrible grip upon a 
preacher's destiny possessed often by men of low 
spirituality and advanced ignorance, these were 
matters to be carefully weighed. It was rankling in 
John Shrewsbury's mind at this period that his father 
had been driven away from Yarmouth because the 
fidelity of his sermons and his strictness of principle 
had given offence. With the severe plainness of 
Methodist ritual and architecture the young man had 
little sympathy. His father's stern Puritanism was 
not in him. To the end of his days the glamour of 
age and art clinging about the Established Church 
fascinated him. Of set purpose, he chose eventually 
the new wine of Methodism for its expansive energy, 
but he loved the mellow flavour of the old. And 
when for a while it seemed to him that the Established 



46 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

Church appealed not only to the aesthetic side of his 
character, but offered also greater breadth and 
scope, and freedom from certain forms of petty 
tyranny, he felt strongly attracted to it. He wrote 
to his father on the subject. 

The reply abounded in sage counsel. Metho- 
dism was not a perfect Church, but well, in 

effect, he was contrasting his intimate knowledge of 
the weakness of Methodism with the outward charms 
of the Established Church superficially viewed. 
Had he recognized that that great ecclesiastical 
organization might have even graver defects ? The 
letter is worth quoting from. 

As to the Establishment, I reverence it as 
"the mother of us all," and especially on account of 
the connection with it of Wesley, Coke, Fletcher, 
and others. • But I could not be a minister of the 
•Church of England as it is now constituted. 
There is not catholicity enough in the Church 
of England for my heart. I never look on the 
Establishment without thinking of the rough and 
blunt expression of good old Bishop Latimer — 
" mingle mangle." Certainly the ministers are a 
heterogeneous mass — good, bad, and indifferent. 
The predominant spirit of the clergy (though 
there are a few exceptions) is pride, and the most 
abominable haughtiness towards all ministers but 
themselves. No son should willingly become one 
of an order, who, as an order, despise and con- 
temn his father, and the people also to whom 
himself and that father owe the blessing of the 
knowledge of salvation. 



Called to Preach. 47 

After commenting upon certain defects in the 
discipline of the Church of England, the letter 
proceeds, " Methodism remains, not a perfect 
system, for there is no perfect system, nor will 
there ever be, so to look for one is folly. As a 
whole, it is the best with which I am acquainted, 
and would approach as near perfection as any mere 
system can, if it were always worked according to 
its own pure and simple economy. A Methodist 
preacher doubtless will have much to bear with, 
both from the Methodists and from his own brethren 
occasionally in the ministry, but if he gives himself 
heartily to his work, and follows uprightness, he 
cannot fail to be a blessing, and to exert a counter- 
acting influence upon the evils he may see and 
deplore. So that on the whole I still say Methodism 
for me, and I trust that I shall not in vain endeavour 
to guide your mind to the same decision." A further 
paragraph sets forth the indebtedness of the whole 
family to Methodism, and concludes, " Wherefore 
what might be more pleasing to flesh and blood 
must be lighter in your estimation than the small 
dust of the balance." 

It was probably due to this letter that the young 
student gave up all thoughts of turning his back 
upon the Church to which, as his father pointed out, 
he owed everything. But the difficulties which 
beset him as a preacher were not removed. He felt 
the force of his uncle's protest. Above all, he was 
weighed down with a sense of his own unfitness. 
He returned his Plan to the Superintendent. A 
little later, his college course completed, he obtained 



48 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

a place as master at the Retford Grammar School, 
and lived again under his father's roof. The call to 
preach now became imperious. He fought against 
it. "If I had my choice," he said, " I would rather 
follow the plough." The words made a deep 
impression upon a young girl who heard them. 
They tarry in her memory to-day, though half a 
century has rolled by. " I could not understand," 
she writes, "how such a good young man could 
feel so. I had not then learned that they who most 
clearly see God most deeply abhor themselves, and 
repent in dust and ashes." The struggle was 
prolonged, but an intensity of inward conviction 
triumphed. The Grammar School master began 
to preach again, and became, in the course of a few 
months, at once an accredited Local Preacher and 
a Candidate iox the Wesleyan Ministry. 

About the same time his brother Joseph, after 
similar hesitation, was received upon the Plan of 
the Bradford Eastbrook Circuit. The two brothers 
were frequently together, and the influence of the 
younger told powerfully upon the elder. In 
temperament the brothers differed widely. John 
possessed a strong vein of humour. He loved a 
joke. To Joseph every jest seemed ill-timed. He 
was even then suffering from that affection of the 
heart which within a year proved fatal. A pre- 
monition of early death had already seized him. 
His short life must be intense. In June, 1848, the 
brothers attended several meetings together in the 
Retford Circuit. At one John, light hearted and 
buoyant, was. meditating a humorous speech. But 



Called to Preach. aq 

Joseph addressed the meeting first. His impassioned 
earnestness thrilled the company. "My light 
ideas," wrote his brother in his account of the 
meeting, "vanished, and I dare not speak of any 
other subject than that of the necessity of working 
while it is called to-day. Eternity alone will reveal 
what I owe to Joseph's prayers, and most kind 
and faithful counsels." Happily, a sense of the 
humorous never deserted my father. But for his 
quickness to perceive the laughable side of disagree- 
able experiences, such as every Methodist preacher 
must face from time to time, his sensitive nature 
would often have been deeply hurt. But the intensity 
of Joseph's life left a permanent mark upon his 
brother's character in a deep and sweet seriousness 
that never left him. It was John who in these days 
sent to his grandfather a copy of Punch, and was 
rebuked for it. It was the same John who at 
seventy relished keenly the light drollery of true 
wit. But never would he suffer a jest on sacred 
subjects, or allow humour, the sauce of literature, 
to take the place of a staple food. 

In the Sheffield District Meeting, held at Retford 
in May, 1848, Mr. John Shrewsbury was unani- 
mously recommended as a candidate for the ministry. 
In July he went up to London to be examined by 
the Committee appointed by the Conference to test 
further and report upon all candidates approved by 
the District Meetings. In the same railway carriage 
three old Woodhouse Grove boys travelled, Thomas 
Wilde, Thomas S. Raby, and George E. Allen. 
All four had met in the same Society Class at school ; 



50 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

all four were candidates for the ministry ; all four 
were examined together, and recommended to the 
Conference. The Conference met that year (1848) 
at Hull. Dr. Newton was President ; John V B. 
Shrewsbury was accepted, and designated for home 
work. He was not sent to one of the theological 
training colleges, for the alleged reason that his 
education was already completed. He was placed, 
therefore, upon the President's list of reserve, 
amongst a band of young men liable to be called 
out at a day's notice to go anywhere by the Presi- 
dent's instruction where death, sickness, or other 
causes made a supply necessary in the place of an 
appointed minister. Referring a few months later 
to this Conference his father says, " Mr. Mallinson 
told me yesterday that the President was much 
pleased with jjour spirit and manner on the day he 
had an interview with you. So live, my son, that 
Christ may be pleased with you in all things." 

The next few months were perplexing to the 
young preacher. He could not take up again his 
duties at the Retford Grammar School, for he might 
be sent to a Circuit at any moment. His father's 
straitened circumstances made it difficult to keep him 
at home unemployed, and the son's independent 
spirit refused to tolerate it. He began therefore a 
small private school at Dewsbury, to which Circuit 
his father had removed. In April, 1849, the Presi- 
dent directed him to proceed to the Woodhouse 
Grove Circuit, to fill a vacancy made by the sudden 
death of one of the ministers. His lodgings were 
at Idle, near Bradford. He spoke of himself some- 



Called to Preach. 5 1 

times as the idle preacher. It was a jest without 
suggestion. He threw himself into his work with 
such intense ardour that his brother Joseph, whose 
standard of a minister's fidelity was very high, 
wrote to warn him against committing sanctified 
suicide. There was some hope that at Conference 
he might be appointed to the Circuit as one of its 
ministers. But he was disappointed, and the 
disappointment was greater when, at the close of 
the Conference, he was still left upon the President's 
List of Reserve. But a few week's later he was 
sent to Leeds, St. Peter's, to supply for the Rev. T 
O. Keysell, smitten down with cholera. The 
pestilence was then raging in Leeds. The young 
preacher moved fearlessly amongst the dead and 
dying. Surely it was a time to arouse sinners with 
the Gospel's trumpet note. The " supply " did not 
sparewords. He was a very Boanerges. One sermon 
in particular called forth an angry anonymous letter. 
It was laid before the sick minister. " The devil is 
offended, Brother Shrewsbury," he said, " go and 
preach it again." God made the wrath of the anony- 
mous letter writer praise Him. The sermon was 
preached again. Twenty-seven souls were saved 
under that unasked for encore, and the preacher re- 
ceived a leg of mutton from a grateful convert. It 
was a lesson for life. Conscience-stirring sermons 
might bring upon him bitter reproaches, to begin 
with. It needed but faith and courage to repeat 
them, and legs of mutton would close the account. 

Memories of those few months of " supply " sur- 
vive even to-day. The young preacher's commission 



52 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

was sealed with souls. Joseph writes home on 
August 31st of that year (1849) : " John is twenty- 
three years old to-day. Last Sunday morning he 
preached to a crowded congregation at St. Peter's. 
In the evening he took his stand at five o'clock near 
the house of a person who had died of cholera, and 
gave the people a short address from "Be ye 
therefore ready." He then proceeded to Richmond 
Hill Chapel, which was well filled, and the Lord 
gave him fifteen souls." 

But dark shadows soon fell. In September the 
fearless young revivalist was himself smitten with 
the pestilence. Scarcely had he recovered when a 
more terrible blow came. On November 26th, his 
brother Joseph, the young doctor, died as he sat at 
the bedside of a patient, with the words on his lips, 
" The soul "first and then the body." The bonds 
that knit the brothers together were very close, and 
the last year had drawn them still closer. John was 
a minister, Joseph a local preacher, already looking 
forward to becoming a medical missionary if spared. 
One of the most familiar objects of my own childhood 
was the old-fashioned ivy-green wooden arm-chair 
in my father's study. Joseph died in it. My 
grandfather bought it from the family as a priceless 
relic. My father inherited it. It was worth more 
than its weight in gold to him. It was Joseph's 
throne of triumph, and became his own chair of 
revelations. Where the one brother received his 
sudden vision of death, the other brother received 
through long subsequent years divine messages for 
the living. 




The Collier's Return. 



Called to Preach. 53 

But the terrible experiences of this year did not 
impair the preacher's energy. He saw in them only 
asummonstomore ardent activity. The Watch-night 
service of that year was a memorable occasion. My 
father conducted it at Garforth. The congrega- 
tion was deeply stirred, and a revival broke out. 
The preacher spent New Year's Day in visiting 
the colliers' cottages. In one he found a woman in 
deep distress of soul. A few neighbours came in, 
and a prayer meeting was held. The groans of 
penitents soon turned to the praises of the saved. 
But the woman's husband was in the pit, " And 
ah, sir," she said, " he is not converted." 

"Let us pray for him," replied the preacher, 
and they knelt down again. Whilst they were on 
their knees the man himself opened the door and 
came in black with coal dust. He had felt miserable 
in the pit, and an impulse he could not resist had 
brought him home. He knelt and bowed his grimy 
face in his hands, and in a little while husband and 
wife were rejoicing together in the love of God. 

All doubt and fear had now passed, all mistrust 
as to the pathway marked out, all oppressive sense of 
unfitness for the work of the ministry. The young 
minister humbled himself yet more before God, but 
never again could he disbelieve that he had received 
a call to preach. 




Chapter V. 
THE YOUNG MINISTER'S TRIUMPH, 



IT was a dreary service. The pulpit was draped 
in black. A prominent member had just died, 
and the Church itself seemed to be expiring. The 
eye ranged over a wilderness of pews. In the great 
Walcot Chapel, Bath, with accommodation for 
fifteen hundred hearers, about fifty people were scat- 
tered here and there. Mr. John Shrewsbury was the 
preacher. He had left the warmth and earnestness 
of Leeds Methodism in February, 1850, to take the 
place of a suspended preacher at Bath, and this was 
his first service in the Walcot chapel. The suspended 
preacher had been greatly beloved. He was a man 
of kindly nature and strong convictions. He saw 
in the Reform agitation of 1849 a popular clamour 
for the redress of certain grievances, a clamour 
little likely to be stilled by coercion. He felt some 
sympathy with the opposition party. He not only 
felt it, he expressed it. To think such things was 
dangerous, to utter them penal. The outspoken 
preacher was arraigned and suspended till Con- 
ference, when his perverted sympathies terminated 
in expulsion. Meanwhile he still occupied the 
house by the chapel gates, and the young minister 
sent in his place had continually to pass and repass 
his windows. 



The Young Minister's Triumph. 55 

It was no easy position to hold. Party feel- 
ing ran very high. The great majority of the 
congregation left with their minister. The loyal 
minority resented bitterly the terrible schism. It 
seemed as if that congregation were doomed to 
extinction, and certainly this young preacher, who 
looked down over the black pulpit-cushion upon a 
handful of curious hearers, seemed the last man to 
revive a forlorn hope. He was a sorrowful young 
man. And well he might be. He came from a 
glowing Circuit to this rent Church. And the 
second great trouble of his life lay heavy upon him. 
"Joseph was not." The brother whose loving 
counsel and sympathy had been an inspiration lay 
yonder in the graveyard of the Bradford Eastbrook 
Chapel. Himself in mourning, the pulpit in 
mourning, the congregation in mourning, little 
wonder that the preacher was described as "a sad- 
faced young man." He struggled through a sermon 
from the text, "Behold the Lamb of God which 
taketh away the sin of the world." It was not a 
rousing discourse at Bath. In Leeds it had been 
quite another thing. But here all the circumstances 
were dispiriting. A supernumerary minister was 
in the congregation. " Well," said his daughter 
after the service, " what did you think of the 
preacher ?" The answer was brief and dry. " He 
won't set the Thames on fire." 

Yet that sermon, flat as it fell, struck the key- 
note of my father's work in Bath. With con- 
spicuous discretion and tact he moved amongst 
men of all parties, in an atmosphere superheated 



5 6 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

with jealousy, and anger, and bitterness of spirit, 
and he escaped the perils besetting him by holding 
resolutely to his one theme, " Behold the Lamb 
of God." To the end of his days he believed that 
the strife of that terrible period might have been 
greatly mitigated if the milder measures and greater 
elasticity of later Methodism had prevailed. And 
he felt a deep sympathy for the suspended minister 
whose place he filled. But the only sympathy he 
expressed was a sympathy for perishing souls. 
Men might be of the "Old Body" or "Reformers;" 
— the same message was good for both, — " Behold 
the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the 
world." 

As he travelled to Bath, anxious and perplexed 
about the work awaiting him there, two texts 
occurred to the young preacher, and great comfort 
and guidance sprang out of them. The words 
suddenly flashed upon his mind, " I have much 
people in this city." Yes, in this city. Was the 
spirit of God limited to cholera stricken and re- 
pentant Leeds? Would not prayer and faith work 
the same miracles in fashionable Bath ? And then 
came the words, " Discretion shall preserve thee." 
He was about to enter a field of mixed growths. 
The eager hands that rooted out the tares might 
easily pluck up much wheat. "Discretion shall 
preserve thee." He would need the cunning of the 
serpent and the harmlessness of a dove. Under 
the spell of these passages the preacher entered 
the city ; under the same spell he chose his 
first text. And soon it came to be recognised 



The Young Minister's Triumph. 57 

that he was neither law-giver nor Connexional 
detective, but simply an earnest and untiring 
evangelist. The most censorious and discontented 
could find no fault with the faithful and gracious 
Gospel messages to which he strictly confined 
himself, or with the unremitting pastoral attention 
shared out impartially to the "Old Body" and 
Reformers alike. At this time also his father's 
counsels proved very valuable. The son was 
anxious, depressed, weighed down with the diffi- 
culties and responsibilities of his position, disturbed 
still more by a distressing sense of his spiritual 
poverty „ The father saw in this distress a bright 
omen. "The Holy Spirit may lead you sometimes 
to godly mourning without condemnation, but when 
He thus leads you it will be generally found that 
it is preparatory to exaltation in Christ's righteous- 
ness, and further usefulness in Christ's holy service. 
I take it, therefore, as a token for good that the Lord 
hath thus dealt with you in the commencement of 
your ministry at Bath." And then referring to the 
extreme difficulty of his son's appointment, and the 
fact that it was an appointment unsought, he 
continues: — "It is this consideration that makes 
me entirely satisfied with your present position, 
painful and difficult as it is, for as it has not been 
chosen by you, but chosen for you, we are fully 
assured it is just the station you ought to occupy." 

To these fatherly counsels and consolations were 
added his father's prayers. " I thought much 
about you, once in particular last Sunday, and was 
led to ask that you might become a mighty harvest 



58 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

man." And a harvester he did become. Within 
a short time he was able to report that the Gospel he 
preached was as powerful at Bath as in Leeds. The 
immediate reply was, "On your behalf I greatly 
praise the Lord. On Sunday morning I asked for 
you, that for scores you might have hundreds, and 
for hundreds thousands of souls. Is that too much 
to expect from God ? " 

I quote from yet another letter in the series, for 
who can gauge the influence of this correspondence 
as a determining factor in the young minister's 
triumph? It is the birthday letter of the year. 
" My dear John, son of my Hillaria, whose mortal 
remains are probably by this time dust, whose spirit 
dwells with God ; brother of our Joseph, whose 
mortal remains are corrupt, while his spirit is a 
flame of fire* before the throne ; servant of my 
Saviour, who has had wonderful patience with me 
in my poor, imperfect ministry for thirty-five years, 
I beseech you ' be a man of God.' Entering on 
another Methodistic year, just at the time you enter 
on another natural year of life, so that one might 
almost say you were bom a Conference man, I hope 
you will have a judicious and carefully prepared 
plan of study and living. A man who ceases to be 
studious will become a dull, heavy, unprofitable 
preacher. The fire of youth soon spends itself, and 
none but the prayerful and diligent wear well to the 
last." 

When the first days of depression, almost of 
despair, had passed, my father set himself reso- 
lutely to face his difficulties. He refused absolutely 



The Young Minister's Triumph. 59 

to enter in controversy. He refused equally to 
hear evil spoken of anyone. Who were right and 
who wrong in matters of ecclesiastical strife was a 
question outside the sphere of his work. All were 
sinners before God. He held without swerving to 
his message. " Behold the Lamb of God." Within 
a month the young preacher's work was telling so 
distinctly that the following note was entered in the 
diary of one of the most earnest members of the 
Society : — 

"March 17th, 1850. Much blessing has attended 
the ministry of Mr. Shrewsbury, a devoted young 
minister, who has lately come amongst us." By 
Conference the whole Circuit felt his influence, and 
a special request was sent from the Quarterly 
Meeting that the "supply" might be appointed 
for the ensuing year as an additional minister, the 
entire expense being guaranteed by the Circuit 
without drawing upon the Connexional Funds. 
The request was granted, and in the Minutes of 
Conference for 1851 the ministers stationed at Bath 
were Peter Duncan, William Willan, John V B. 
Shrewsbury. 

The winter of that year was a memorable season. 
Conversions were continually occurring, not only 
during Sabbath worship, but at the Friday night 
prayer-meetings and the early morning services. 
Twice a week my father held a meeting from six 
to seven o'clock in the morning in the Walcot 
Schoolroom. On Tuesdays the gathering was for 
prayer and praise, with a brief address, on Thurs- 
days he preached. The memory of those early hours 



60 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

is still sweet to the surviving few who took part 
in them. 

The chapel began to fill again. Deserters 
returned in numbers ; fresh members were added 
week by week. At the following Conference the 
Circuit repeated its request for the re-appointment 
of its third minister on the same conditions, and it 
was granted again. 

These successes were won by zeal, patience, 
tact, and unceasing prayer. On the second Sunday 
after he came to Bath, the "supply" went to 
preach at Twerton, a village two miles from the 
city. He was to meet all the classes before the 
service. Only a small gathering was expected, for 
the reform agitation had swept the Society. The 
large room, however, was packed with angry mem- 
bers, eager *to vent their wrath on the young 
preacher, who appeared to them in the light of an 
ecclesiastical blackleg. One after another rose 
and railed against the Conference. The women 
spoke in tearful tones of their beloved pastor 
torn from them. Intense excitement prevailed. 
What could a young preacher of twenty- 
four do to stem such a torrent of angry 
passions ? He suggested meekly that as they could 
not alter the state of things in that meeting they 
should give themselves to spiritual edification. 
" Go on, brother," an excited member shouted, 
" speak out your mind, don't 'e be stopped. The 
sooner these yere laws of Conference be torn to 
pieces and trampled under foot the better ;" and to 
point the words, he brought his foot down with an 



The Young Ministers Triumph. 61 

emphatic bang. Pastoral advice and exhortation, 
as usually given at such meetings, became impos- 
sible. The preacher shot out brief and vague 
replies, such as " Remember Matthew vi. 6, and 
all will be well." "Cultivate the beatitudes, my 
brother." 

The meeting over, the majority of the mem- 
bers streamed away to the recently opened rival 
place of worship. But a leading spirit amongst 
the agitators remained, and seating himself in the 
gallery opposite" the preacher, note-book in hand, 
made ready to jot down any unwise utterances the 
sermon might contain. An inflammatory journal 
would have given willing publicity to them. But 
the preacher was wary His words dealt out only 
unadulterated gospel. The sermon was the previous 
Sunday's discourse from the text, " Behold the 
Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the 
world." If it failed to rouse the enthusiasm of the 
congregation in Walcot Chapel, it served admirably 
to damp the ardour of these village agitators. The 
hungry note-book returned empty to the critic's 
pocket. Preacher and critic met after the service in 
the vestry The critic was in a surly mood. The 
preacher said, " I want to visit a few of the people 
next Tuesday." The critic growled, " It's time 
they were, they never are." Then with the gracious 
and dignified air characteristic of him, the preacher 
asserted his intention of calling upon his surly 
brother, and begged that he would accompany him 
upon a round of pastoral visitation. His heart 
softened. He was transformed from a foe into a 



62 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

friend, and did all he could to make the preacher's 
path smooth for him. The class-meeting and the 
subsequent visitation, and the influence of the surly 
brother — surly no more — resulted in bringing back 
several leading families who had been carried away 
by the agitation. 

Upon personal influence individually exerted 
my father largely relied. He had a word in 
season for everybody, and he was ready to do any- 
thing, travelling far outside the routine of merely 
ministerial duties, that he might be a true servant 
of Christ. A communication lies before me from a 
gentleman who retains a vivid impression of those 
days. 

" My relation to him was merely that of a youth 
seeking for religious counsel and spiritual help. 
This I did nol fail to receive from him, and he was 
the means of leading me to a stronger confidence ; 
and, to use his own words to me at the time, ' a more 
affectionate faith.' But what left an indelible 
impression upon me was a little incident that 
occurred during our occasional intercourse. I 
believe that it was at his own desire that I accom- 
panied him one summer evening to a cottage service 
held in Combe Down. Those who know the locality 
will remember the steepness of the ' Carriage Road,' 
the most direct approach to the Down. When 
somewhat more than half way up we overtook an 
elderly woman of the poorer sort, toiling under the 
burden of a heavy basket. With Christian polite- 
ness Mr. Shrewsbury took this burden upon 
himself, to her great relief. On reaching the 



The Young Minister's Triumph. 63 

top of the hill, and handing back to her the basket, 
he said, 'Carry all your other burdens to Christ.' 
Those who knew him best will perhaps recognise 
this as characteristic." 

In the course of his pastoral work during this 
period, my father visited a man horribly afflicted 
with scrofula. His wife was worn out with the 
strain of long nursing. To relieve the weary 
wife, and find for himself a golden opportunity of 
ministering to the sick man, body and soul, the 
young minister sat up with him throughout one of 
the nights immediately preceding the patient's 
death. It was a service of true devotion, for 
throughout his life he was particularly fastidious 
in his abhorrence of evil sights and smells. 

On another occasion he found the Walcot 
chapel-keeper's family in distress, the father over- 
whelmed with work, the mother prostrate with 
sickness and worry, a child ill, and in need of 
attention the mother could not give. It was not 
exactly in his line, but the young preacher, ready 
to help in any way, gave the child a bath, and put 
it comfortably to bed. 

When the schoolmaster was ill he supplied his 
place for three days as teacher, to give him needed 
rest. He was willing and eager to set his hands to 
any work of ministering. He had his reward, and 
a rich one, the minister's greatest joy. Conver- 
sions were continuous. He entered the city down- 
cast, and overwhelmed by the thought of the 
difficulties he had to face. In fear and trembling, 
a sad-faced young preacher, he delivered his first 



64 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

message, " Behold the Lamb of God which taketh 
away the sin of the world." With growing boldness 
he reiterated it, and the Lord honoured it. He had 
the joy of recording between February, 1850, and 
September, 1852, the names of between three and 
four hundred seekers for salvation. In August he 
preached his farewell sermon in Walcot Chapel 
from the text, " For God hath not appointed us to 
wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus 
Christ." He was no longer a sad preacher. It was 
no mere handful of hearers he addressed. A large 
congregation filled the chapel, and very many were 
present to whom the preacher had been God's 
herald of mercy. They could never forget his 
words and influence. His glance wandered over 
the pews, and on every side he recognised with 
intense joy thaj; God had given him " souls for his 
hire, and seals to his ministry." The rent Society 
was healed. The all but extinct congregation had 
grown to its former proportions. A harvest of 
souls had been gathered in. The young minister's 
triumph was complete. 





Rev. J. V. 5. Shrewsbury, 

As a Young Minister. 



Chapter VI. 
" THIS CHANCE OF NOBLE DEEDS." 



IN Tennyson's " Holy Grail," King Arthur 
bemoans his Knights' vow to ride in quest of 
of the wondrous vision ; — 

" Go, since your vows are sacred, being made: 
Yet — for ye know the cries of all my realm — 
Pass thro' this hall — how often, O my Knights, 
Your places being vacant at my side, 
This chance of noble deeds will come and go 
Unchallenged, whilst ye follow wandering fires, 
Lost in the quagmire." 

My father put before everything else in his 
ministry " this chance of noble deeds." Others, if 
they would, might pursue the pathway of ambition, 
or turn aside from the multitude to indulge in mystic 
dreams, for him there was only one course. He 
must be at his Lord's side, where the cries of all the 
realm entered, ready at a word to receive his com- 
mission to right any wrong, to heal any wounds, to 
succour any distressed soul. In all Scripture there 
were no words which lay more heavily upon his 
conscience than these : ' ' The Spirit of the Lord God 
is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to 
preach good tidings unto the meek ; he hath sent 
me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim 
liberty to the captives, and the opening of the 
prison to them that are bound ; to proclaim the 



66 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance 
of our God ; to comfort all that mourn ; to appoint 
unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them 
beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the 
garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." 

From the beginning of his ministry as a "supply," 
to the day, forty-six years later, when he retired 
from active service, that commission was held sacred, 
above and beyond everything else. Reckoning off 
the months spent in ' ' supply " work at Bradford and 
Leeds, my father fulfilled the maximum three years 
appointment in each of the following fifteen circuits : 
—Bath, Shrewsbury, Sheffield, Leeds (Oxford 
Place), Manchester (Oldham Street), Manchester 
(Grosvenor Street), Altrincham, Hackney, Croydon, 
Glasgow (Claremont Street), Birmingham (Isling- 
ton), Hull (JValtham Street), Filey, Rawtenstall, 
Nottingham (Halifax Place). The last eight 
appointments, from Hackney onwards, carried the 
peculiar cares and responsibilities attaching to the 
term "SuperintendentMinister." The work involved 
by appointments to these influential centres of 
Methodist life was necessarily heavy, and the strain 
often great. During the second half of the period 
many financial difficulties had to be faced, and 
intricate Circuit problems grappled with. But 
throughout the "preacher" survived. Neither 
schedules nor trust deeds, nor Circuit debts, nor 
chapel-building schemes, nor the dividing of 
Circuits, nor any of those other business details, 
which more and more, as Methodist organization 
swells and grows, threaten to transform preachers 



' ' This Chance of Noble Deeds. " 67 

into clerks and notaries, were permitted to eclipse 
the great commission. "This chance of noble 
deeds " was ever the uppermost thought. And 
many were the opportunities that came, and nobly 
were they responded to. Yet these deeds were, for 
the most part, done in secret, known only to those 
immediately concerned, and difficult even to outline 
in these pages, lest the feelings of the benefited 
should be hurt, and the honour of the benefactor 
tarnished by the very recital. I am not speaking of 
those ordinary acts of kindness and charity in which 
every Methodist preacher delights. There was in 
my father's character a certain quixotic strain. He 
felt impelled to try the effect of his commission in 
cases where men not less earnest, but less dominated 
by Isaiah lxi. 1-3, would have felt a policy of silent 
sympathy and private prayer the only policy avail- 
able. He went further. With an unwavering faith 
in the possibilities of the Gospel, he interested 
himself actively in attempting apparently hopeless 
rescues. The "horrible pit" was never so deep, 
the " miry clay" never so adhesive, but he believed 
in the power of divine grace to draw a victim out, 
and in his own call to let down a rope. I can only 
sketch in faint outlines a few instances. They are 
but samples of work in which he was continuously 
engaged throughout the whole of his ministerial 
life. 

In the first place, the seed basket was always at 
hand. There is a subtle temptation to ministers, 
after a period of spiritual activity, when they have 
sown the seed broadcast over the congregation, to 



68 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

stay the hand. It is a paradox of human nature, 
that a maximum of ardent preaching may correspond 
to a minimum of individual effort. There is a not 
less subtle temptation arising from the fear of 
appearing merely professional. These temptations 
my father escaped. He carried his seed basket 
everywhere. He never left it behind him in the 
pulpit. Again and again, moving up and down 
the country I have met with the happy results of 
those sowings by the way-side. 

" I shall never forget your father," said the 
Superintendent of a large Sunday School. " When 
I was a young man I heard him say in an address 
that no unconverted teacher was fit for his position. 
I was a Sunday School teacher then, and uncon- 
verted, and I felt so much hurt that I decided to 
resign. Just then my father was ill, and your 
father came to see him. I recognized his voice in 
the passage and tried to escape him, but he ran up 
against me on the stairs. ' Well,' he said, ' how is 
your class getting on ? ' I told him I was going to 
give it up, and why. He put his hand kindly on 
my shoulder and said earnestly, ' There is no need 
to do that. There is a better way. Give your heart to 
God, and you will enjoy teaching as you have never 
done before.' There was something in your father's 
words and manner that quite overcame me. I took 
his advice. I gave myself to God that very day, 
and have been a Sunday School worker ever since." 
The incident is characteristic. Many such might 
be given. Only the great day can reveal what joy 
will fall to the sower, what record of noble deeds 



" This Cliance of Noble Deeds." 69 

will be his, who has had the courage to carry his 
seed basket everywhere. 

In boyhood my father was a thorough-going 
"teetotaller," or rather, for he abhorred that word, 
a staunch abstainer. He inherited all his father's 
intense hatred of the drink traffic, and all his resolute 
opposition to it. But his opposition, though 
equally uncompromising, was more discriminating. 
The father's condemnation of drink included equally 
those who offered it. The son recognized the kind 
motive that often prompted the insidious offer. He 
realized, moreover, that many of the noblest and 
most generous natures become the victims of alcohol, 
and his warm sympathy and unflagging patience 
gave him a marked influence in dealing with such 
cases. Unflagging, indeed, his patience required 
to be. The pledge signed, a brief period of abstin- 
ence, the pledge broken, drunkenness, delirium 
tremens ) the pledge signed again, and so on through 
recurring cycles, such was the history of many of 
the cases he undertook. Often it seemed as if 
months of unremitting prayer had been thrown 
away Yet he never complained, and never allowed 
discouragement to paralyze either his sympathies or 
his efforts. And in some cases the successes won 
more than compensated for all disheartening failures. 
In the Conference of 1872 a minister was arraigned 
for intemperance. The charges were conclusively 
established. There seemed to be only one course 
open to the Conference. My father had followed 
the case with intense interest. He knew the minister 
He believed in him. He foresaw possibilities of 



70 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

restoration, ancl of future triumph. As yet he had 
never addressed the Conference. Now he rose in 
his place, and with passionate earnestness pleaded 
for the brother whose fault, grievous as it was, 
he represented as neither past pardon nor past re- 
covery. And then, whilst the Conference listened 
with bated breath, he pledged himself in the 
brother's behalf. If the Conference, instead of 
cutting off the offender, would grant him a year's 
grace by making him a supernumerary for that 
period, he would make himself his guardian ; 
he would see him every day, he would help 
him to fight his battle ; and he believed 
that, by God's blessing, before the ensuing Con- 
ference the brother, already all but broken-hearted 
in his penitence, would have entirely recovered 
himself. It was an appeal such as the Conference 
had perhaps never heard before. It moved every 
heart. The request was granted. My father imme- 
diately took a house within a few yards of his own, 
and the minister in question and his family moved 
into it. Day by day the two ministers were in close 
association. The struggle was fierce at first, but 
the guardian was always at hand with words of 
sympathy and good cheer. He had the joy of 
seeing his brother minister daily gaining ground. 
By the following Conference he was able to report 
that not once during the year had the pledge been 
broken. The recovery was complete. Conference 
received again with deep joy the brother restored, 
and appointed him to a Circuit. His ministry 
during a period of twelve months brought a blessing 



1 ' This Chance of Noble Deeds. " 7 1 

upon the Circuit, then a fatal illness seized him, and 
he died, loved and respected by all. Referring to 
this case, Dr. Punshon wrote from Toronto in 
September, 1872 : " I rejoice to find that you have 
found your voice in Conference. I cannot refrain 
from telling you how highly I esteem — not your 
education speech, though you need not be ashamed 
of that, — but that other Christ-like thing, which 
brought tears to my eyes and a doxology to my 
lips when I read of it (in a private letter). I mean 
the promise to watch over — and help him in the 
great life-battle with his morbid appetite. May God 
bless you for this." 

In two other instances my father undertook 
similar responsibilities. One case was an exact 
parallel. A house was taken, as before, but the 
sudden death of the minister occurred before it could 
be occupied. In the third case a strong plea was 
urged on behalf of a brother whose eccentricities 
furnished theStationingCommittee with an insoluble 
problem. For two years my father had him under 
his constant supervision. With boundless charity 
he refused to see in his brother's behaviour anything 
more than freaks of wayward genius. He confessed 
himself hopelessly beaten when, after indefatigable 
efforts to control the same freaks, his eccentric 
charge gave it out that Mr. Shrewsbury would 
never have been able to manage the Circuit if he 
had not been at the back of him ! 

As an illustration of the way in which my father 
not only seized clear opportunities of rescue work, 
but even sought to create such chances, the following 



72 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

may be given,* Returning home from a service in 
a Scotch city, he saw a well-dressed young man, 
already drunk, stagger into a dram-shop, and 
followed him in. He ordered a glass of whiskey, 
and was about to take it, when my father said to the 
barman, "It is at your peril you serve him ; you 
see the state he is in." The glass was immediately 
withdrawn. 

" Who are you?" cried the young man angrily. 
" I am your friend," was the reply. 
" Will you have a glass of lemonade then?" 
" No thank you, sir, I'll have nothing here. 
Come out and I'll talk with you." 

They passed out together. The young man 
proved to be the son of an Elder of the Estab- 
lished Church. He was thoroughly miserable. He 
felt that he had disgraced himself and his family. 
He added, fiercely, " I'll drink myself to the devil, 
if there be a devil." The kind response of his 
friend, who already saw in prospect reconciliation 
and restoration, was cut short. A passing street 
girl carried the young man off, and his life's chance, 
had he known it, escaped him. 

As a peace-maker my father was conspicuously 
successful in several cases. He abhorred feuds, 
whether family quarrels or Church contentions. In 
the case of a brother and sister-in-law a feud of long 
standing had become so bitter that they refused 
even to speak when they met at the chapel doors. 
He entered into correspondence with each ; and in 
due time effected a complete reconciliation. A 
little later the sister ministered to her brother in his 



" This Chance of Noble Deeds:' 73 

last sickness. His wife was ill at the time, and 
hardly expected to recover. The sister's unfailing 
kindness was an unspeakable comfort, and all three 
cherished the deepest gratitude for the friend whose 
perseverance had re-established peace. 

The joy of bringing about such reconciliations 
was often renewed. My father's belief in the better 
side of human nature, combined with a rare tact and 
unwearied patience, enabled him frequently to close 
long-standing quarrels. 

This chapter would not be complete without a 
reference to my father's views and practice in the 
matter of giving. In this particular, as in many 
others, he followed scrupulously his father's example. 
He had made it an invariable custom to give away 
one-tenth of his whole income ; and how he dealt 
with "windfalls" may be gathered from the following 

extract. " Last Sunday, , Esq., at whose 

house I slept after attending the missionary meeting, 
kindly put a sovereign in my hand. As I lay on 
my bed reflecting on his generous kindness to a 
stranger, I thought it would not be right to allow 
myself to*be enriched by anything presented to me 
when I attended missionary meetings ; and so next 
day, on returning home, your dear mother and I 
agreed that it should be added to our domestic 
offering (the 'domestic offering' was a large 
mahogany missionary box, with two mouths, one of 
which was fed with small daily offerings, and the 
other, at intervals, on birthdays and special occa- 
sions, with larger thankofferings), making altogether 
£6 10s. od. This is the way, my dear John, I am 

F 



74 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

providing for my family. I make the Lord my 
banker, and insure myself against bankruptcy." 
My father's views and practice ran on parallel lines. 
He did not fail to recognize the enormous difference 
in the relative value of tithe-giving as between 
rich and poor, but he considered a tenth God's due 
from all but the poverty-stricken. And he viewed 
that as the poor man's noble maximum of giving, the 
rich man's shabby minimum. His own giving was 
regulated by conscientious convictions. Of all that 
he received one-tenth was religiously set aside and 
put into the " charity bag." Of " windfalls " many 
were devoted to the Lord, not in one-tenths but in 
ten-tenths. One of his more recent acts of alms- 
giving only came to light at the time of his 
death. On first coming to Nottingham my father 
visited a po©r man, who through sheer poverty had 
••dropped out of membership. He invited him to 
his own class-meeting, and a very genuine Christian 
he proved. But more than spiritual consolation 
was needed. He was promised a loaf of bread 
every week. For six years the loaf was regularly 
supplied through the baker. Then my father's fatal 
illness seized him. When the poor man received 
his last loaf, he remarked, " I hope I shall be taken 
home before my good kind friend, for I don't know 
what I should do without him." It was the last 
loaf, for within a week the recipient died, and four 
days later his friend followed him. In such cases 
as these my father delighted. 

The pathway to Connexional honours opened to 
him, but he turned aside from it. Twice he 



" This Chance of Noble Deeds" 75 

declined important appointments because they 
would have involved the chairmanship of a district. 
He was essentially a pastor. Conference seldom 
saw him. Controversy and burning questions 
troubled his spirit. When, late in life, he was 
elected to the Legal Hundred on the ground of 
seniority, he attended regularly, but from duty 
rather than of choice. He was, in truth, no knight- 
errant. He preferred rather to bide by the King's 
side, and take his " chance of noble deeds." 




Chapter VII. 
HOME GLIMPSES. 



AM AN'S shrewdest critics are his own children. 
He may be a great man to the world, or a 
holy man ; they know every weakness. The public 
sees his life work, pattern side uppermost ; they see 
the other side. The pattern may be reversible or it 
may not. It may present on the inner side, though 
in different colours, the same beautiful design, or it 
may be a tangle of thread-ends. The testimony of 
a professor of entire sanctification was discussed on 
a certain ocoasion. Said a lady present, " He may 
*be entirely sanctified in the newspapers, but he 
isn't entirely sanctified if you saw him at home." 

Enough has already been said of my father's 
earlier ministry to indicate his earnestness and 
devotion to public duties. Dare I turn up a corner 
and show the reverse side? It is the purpose of 
this chapter to attempt it ; to display frankly in 
a series of home glimpses the hidden side of a 
character which, in its outward aspects, was 
singularly rich in all Christian graces. It is natural 
that these glimpses should begin with marriage. 

My father's marriage was an act of sweet 
revenge. He possessed himself of the daughter 
of the supernumerary minister whose caustic com- 
ment on hearing him the first time was, " He will 



Home Glimpses. 77 

never set the Thames on fire." The young preacher 
had barely entered upon his ministerial probation 
when his father, viewing from afar the inevitable 
crisis which would make or mar his usefulness, 
was already making it a matter of special prayer. 
He wrote to him, " It is too early yet to think 
or speak about courtship ; its dangers are great, 
its hazards many, and none are safe but those who 
do really and sincerely obey the universal directory 
and promise, ' In all thy ways acknowledge Him, 
and He shall direct thy paths.' My anxious prayer 
for you in this matter will beforehand anticipate 
your thoughts and desires. I cannot tell you how 
much I long for your happiness and prosperity of 
every sort, both in this life and in the world to 
come." 

And certainly it seemed that the anticipatory 
prayer of the far-seeing father was graciously heard. 
At the time my father became an accepted candidate 
for the ministry, the Rev. Henry Young Cheverton 
retired from full work. It was a question whether 
he would settle as a supernumerary minister at 
Salisbury or at Bath. The pestilence of 1850 
decided the matter. Salisbury was cholera stricken, 
and at the last moment the choice fell on Bath. A 
few months later my father's period of "supply " at 
Leeds closed. Various openings were successively 
blocked, and finally, to his dismay, he was sent to 
Bath to occupy the difficult position of substitute for 
a suspended minister, whose suspension had created 
a tempest of indignation. At Bath, in the course 
of the year, his father visited him, and was introduced 



78 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

* 

to Miss Cheverton. " What do you think of her, 
father?" was a natural question. "It won't do, 
John," was the reply, "she is too delicate." But 
he went home and reported confidently, " I have 
seen John's wife." Between the supernumerary and 
the young preacher a warm friendship quickly 
sprang up. The supernumerary's daughter was 
inscrutable. What she thought of the "supply" 
she kept to herself. In the centre of the garden a 
fine mulberry tree grew. Many a half hour the 
preacher spent in wrapt thought under its branches. 
The fallen fruit he ate thankfully ; the fruit upon 
the boughs he would never touch. But it struck 
him as a curious phenomenon, upon which he 
remarked, that the finest berries fell first. He 
did not know till years after that just before his 
visits a demure girl plucked and scattered on the 
''sward the tree's choicest produce. In subsequent 
visits to Bath, after he had left the Circuit, my 
father's intimacy with the Cheverton family was 
renewed. Presently, what his father had so long 
foreseen, he himself realized. The maiden of the 
mulberry-tree held his heart. After earnest prayer 
he wrote to her. At the exact hour he was writing 
she was praying, under a strong presentiment that 
the morning's post would bring that very letter. 
She was an only child ; could she leave her parents? 
And dare she, reserved and shy by nature, face the 
duties of a preacher's wife? Love won the day, 
and on April 21st, 1855, John V. B. Shrewsbury 
was married to Henrietta Moon Cheverton in the 
Walcot Chapel, Bath. 



Home Glimpses. 79 

The marriage was a singularly happy one. On 
my mother's part the union was cemented by a 
reverent love that rarely ventured upon even a 
kindly jest ; on my father's by a tender and watchful 
protection. How perfect the union was one fact 
will sufficiently attest. From the beginning of their 
married life to its close, forty-two years later, 
husband and wife united daily in private prayer. 
To jarring souls such a practice would be an 
intolerable affliction. It was not so with my father. 
The union in prayer was the beautiful expression of 
a perfect concord, and it tallies with the fact that 
ransacking my memory I can recall no single 
instance of a dispute between my father and 
mother, notwithstanding the quick temper of the 
one and the undemonstrative pertinacity of the 
other. As the children merged one by one from 
childhood, it dawned upon us that over and above 
the scrupulously observed hours of family worship, 
there was a season of secret midday prayer. It 
used to be a puzzle why father and mother were 
always shut up in the study immediately after 
dinner, and strict orders given that under no pretext 
were they to be disturbed. In due course the secret 
was disclosed. To this day I feel the thrill that ran 
through me when first I was permitted to be present 
in that mysterious chamber at that mysterious hour. 
It was a revelation to find that every day each 
child's name was breathed in prayer ; that the little 
weaknesses and faults of each one of us were 
tenderly detailed to the Almighty, and His aid 
invoked for us. That my father should pray for us 



80 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

in the lump 'at family worship seemed perfectly- 
natural ; that he and my mother should thus plead 
for us individually, gave a new and enlarged con- 
ception of their tender love for their children, and 
of their oneness with each other. 

The influence of this' perfect fellowship upon my 
father's public work can hardly be measured, but it 
was very great. None but preachers themselves 
fully understand the strain of a preacher's work — 
the nervous reluctance that often goes before preach- 
ing, the nervous reaction that succeeds it ; the 
sleepless nights following excited meetings ; the 
painful dealings with men who, if not wicked, are 
frequently unreasonable ; the difficulty of preserving 
a sympathetic impartiality where party feeling runs 
high. Apart altogether from the ordinary labour 
of ministerial duty, these form special burdens that 
fall more or less heavily upon all preachers, burdens 
rendered many times heavier if, as in my father's 
case, the preacher should have a highly strung and 
sensitive nature. For these cares he found a true 
sedative in his home life. Its unruffled calm per- 
mitted him to concentrate his thought and energy 
without distraction upon his public work. Of home 
anxieties there were many, of home friction, none. 
And in this peaceful atmosphere the preacher 
recruited his strength and gathered new energy, 

Yes, the home cares were many indeed. The 
bringing up of six sons and six daughters involved 
inevitably many an anxious period. In earlier 
years, when his children were few, my father's 
brothers and sisters received generous help. In 



Home Glimpses. 81 

later years, when his children were many, he 
cherished his aged parents with filial devotion. 
The burdens of home life far outweighed at times 
the heaviest burden of ministerial duty. But wifely 
courage and devotion and patience never failed. 
The hands that strewed the lawn with the finest 
mulberries, strewed my father's path with life's 
choicest blessings. 

It will be gathered, from what has been said, 
that prayer was the mainstay of the home. Nothing 
was ever allowed to interfere with family worship. 
When my father was absent my mother discharged 
the duty It was never shirked, yet it was carried 
through with evident nervousness, and by the aid 
of a book of prayers. But there came one day 
when a curious hesitancy and marked tremulousness 
arrested attention, and quickly the whisper passed 
from child to child, "She's praying without the 
book." And the little volume never appeared again. 
When both parents were absent the trusty domestic 
became priestess of the family altar. She was herself 
a product of prayer. When my father was living 
in the large rambling preacher's house at Holbeck 
it seemed impossible to procure a servant. Trade 
was good, and girls preferred the independence of 
the factory to the bonds of service. The matter was 
dealt with in the midday petitions. The next day 
an awkward Holbeck girl presented herself. "I 
heer'd ye were wantin' t' engage a lass," she said. 
" What can you do?" "I reckon I can do nowt 
unless I'm tolled, but I'm willin' to larn." And 
learn she did. She remained for sixteen years, and 



82 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

left amidst tears to go abroad for her health's sake. 
To this day she is remembered with affectionate 
gratitude. 

My father believed implicitly in the Scripture, 
"Ask, and she shall receive." In the early years 
of his ministry, when preacher's incomes were very 
slender, and his resources taxed to the utmost, he 
found himself on one occasion without money to 
last the week out. Debt he abhorred. To borrow 
was hateful. Husband and wife laid the matter 
before the Lord. The next day a gentleman, who 
was an entire stranger, called. With some hesitancy 
he made known the reason of his visit. He hoped 
my father would not feel hurt, but he felt an un- 
accountable impulse to offer him aid, and so saying 
he placed in his hands a ten-pound note. 

Sometimes this unwavering belief in Divine 
Providence Ted my father into acts which afterwards 
he regarded as credulous rather than trustful. In 
earlier years, on rare occasions, when sorely per- 
plexed, he would open the Bible at random, and 
expect to find suitable guidance in the first text 
his glance rested upon. But once, when not only 
perplexed but greatly irritated also, he sought 
direction thus, he opened upon the words, "Then 
Peter began to curse and to swear." From that 
time he never used the Bible again in any hap- 
hazard way. 

In another direction this implicit faith revealed 
itself. Occasionally offences were committed by an 
undiscoverable offender. The offence might be 
trifling, but the denial of it could not be passed 



Home Glimpses. 8 



o 



over. In a few instances, in order to bring the 
guilt home to the actual culprit, recourse was had 
to the drawing of lots. The children assembled, 
my father would pray that the disposal of the lot 
might be from God. Then slips of paper were 
drawn, one by each individual present, and the 
offender was to be detected by the drawing of a 
marked paper. On the last occasion of using this 
ordeal the lot fell upon my mother. This was 
disconcerting. There had clearly been some flaw 
in the method. Prayer was offered again, and the 
lots were drawn afresh. At the second drawing, 
when the papers were examined, my father himself 
was found to be in possession of the damning slip. 
This was a death-blow to the ordeal. It left his 
belief in Divine Providence unaffected, but he 
deduced the lesson that it was true faith to trust the 
Lord to answer His children's prayers in His own 
way, and a mistaken faith to force a method of 
response upon the Lord and expect Him to honour 
it. 

Sundays at home were always happy days. My 
father believed in making the Sabbath the most 
cheerful day of all the week. Sunday cooking was 
tabooed. He held that in families where a hot 
dinner could be enjoyed by all the members any 
day of tin- week, the economy of labour effected by 
cold joints should be effected on the Sabbath. But 
special dishes were always prepared on the Saturday 
for Sabbath consumption. The pastry was richer 
than usual, the allowance of cakes and sweets and 
fruit more liberal. So long as greediness was 



84 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

eschewed, we" were taught to regard the Sabbath as 
a feast day, holy unto the Lord, distinguished by 
exceptional privileges, both for soul and body. At 
breakfast a text was invariably required from each 
member of the family, and a word of praise given 
to the most appropriate passage stimulated Bible 
study. Sometimes the irrepressible sauciness of 
childhood would break forth on these occasions. 
"When my father and my mother forsake me then 
the Lord will take me up," was the passage solemnly 
drawled out by one boy, after a week of frequent 
and probably richly-merited punishment. 

On another Sunday, when my father's eldest 
brother, Jeremiah, was present a little fellow of six 
chimed forth, " Jeremiah, what seest thou?" Such 
outbursts were passed over in amused silence. In 
the afternoon "Father's Bible lesson" was the 
special attraction, and very precious to this day is 
the memory of those Sabbath lessons. 

Tea-time on the last day of the year was always 
a special occasion. My father produced then his 
pocket book, and beginning with the first of 
January, and turning page by page, recounted 
all the special mercies of the year. 

For a period of thirty years the whole family 
gathered at Christmas in the old home. The last 
gathering was held at Rawtenstall in 1890. There 
were present father and mother, six sons, six 
daughters, one daughter-in-law, and two grand- 
children. Death had made no break in the circle. 
The place was hallowed by the associations of half 
a century earlier. It was felt by all that such a 



Home Glimpses. 85 

gathering was a beautiful climax to the long series. 
It was resolved not to attempt another. We parted 
with unbroken ranks. The next gathering can 
only be in the Heavenly dwelling-places. God 
grant that the ranks may be found unbroken again. 
Looking back to those years of home-life, the 
personality of my father stands out in clear and 
beautiful relief. Not, indeed, as altogether faultless ; 
nervous irritability, quickness of temper, hastiness 
of speech — vague memories of such things cross 
my mind, but as surface faults only. They were 
the earthen vessel, apart from which the excellency 
of the treasure would have been less conspicuous. 
What I am particularly struck by is, first of all, my 
father's absolute impartiality. To this day I cannot 
say which of his twelve children he loved best ; and 
he loved none of them least. And next I wonder at 
his cheerfulness. He was constitutionally of a 
morbid temperament. It is pathetic to read the 
frequent brief jottings in his pocket books, which 
betray the seasons of intense depression through 
which he passed. Yet his children saw little of it. 
The painful sense of personal unworthiness which 
tormented him in his youth clung to him to the 
end, and the bitter experiences of life filled him 
often with mournful musings on the mystery of 
Providence. Yet he never lost his faith in the 
reality of Providence, and in his moments of deepest 
self-abasement the lines — 

" Nothing in my hand I bring, 
Simply to Thy cross I cling," 

gave him unfailing comfort. 



86 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

This chapter began with marriage ; it shall close 
with a note about grand-children. How gracious 
he was with them ! taking the little ones on his 
knees, and smiling down upon them whilst they 
clutched his long white beard with baby fingers ; 
walking the streets of Nottingham with his little 
grand-daughter — a perfect and exquisite picture of 
age and childhood ; preaching in Leeds to a large 
congregation of young people, with his hand upon 
the head of his eldest grand-son, John. One little 
thing that grand-son especially remembers. " Look, 
grandfather," he said on the occasion of my father's 
last visit, "isn't our Eric a bonny little baby?" 
"Yes," he replied, "he is. See, my dear boy, if 
you can't be the first to teach him the name of 
Jesus y They were his last words to John. 

I have held up in these fragmentary details the 
hidden side of my father's character. If it is 
correctly portrayed, it should appear that the pattern 
was truly reversible. Whatever beauty it had viewed 
from the standpoint of the public, it manifested 
equal beauty to those who were privileged to know 
it by sweet home glimpses. 




Chapter VIII. 
A SUPERINTENDENT'S BURDENS. 



THE position of a superintendent minister my 
father shrank from. He would gladly have 
remained the second or third preacher, or have 
filled even a young man's place, if it might have 
been so. But he was already qualified by years of 
accumulated experience to fill the higher position, 
and the Connexion needed his services. At 
Hackney he assumed the responsibility for the 
first time, and during the next twenty-four years he 
had the oversight of some of the most important 
circuits in Methodism. Looking back over the 
record of those years the amount of work he did in 
extinguishing debts, building new chapels, dividing 
circuits, and grappling with long-standing problems, 
is surprising. Many of these tasks, indeed, could 
be classed as works of supererogation. They were 
not obligatory. A superintendent might con- 
gratulate himself if he left his circuit in as good 
a condition as he found it. But my father could 
never content himself with this. The same Quixotic 
strain in his character which impelled him to attempt 
the rescue of apparently hopeless characters, impelled 
him to wrestle with apparently hopeless circuit 
problems. The ordinary cares of a superintendent 
form no small burden. He is responsible for the 



88 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

yearly nomination of all the leaders and stewards in 
the circuit ; he is the official chairman of every 
Trustees' meeting ; he is answerable to the Con- 
ference for the making and receiving and forwarding 
of all Connexional collections ; he has the planning 
of all the preachers in the circuit, a difficult and 
often a most delicate task. 

"See," said a superintendent to me once, 
" What am I to do? Here is a letter from Brother 

, saying, ' Please give me some appointments 

to ;' and here by the same post I have a letter 

from the society stewards at , saying, ' Who 

ever you send us, don't send Mr. , for we won't 

have him.' " 

Again, the superintendent must furnish the 
District Synod with an accurate return of all the 
members, members on trial and junior members in 
• his circuit, showing exactly the exact source of all 
gains and losses ; he must report the sums received 
for all Connexional funds, and the state of all Trust 
properties ; and for every schedule filled up and 
forwarded to Connexional authorities he must see 
that a duplicate entry is correctly made in the 
circuit books ; and whenever anything goes wrong, 
— and what circuit is there in which every year 
something does not go wrong somewhere? — he 
must be the general referee. On the whole, there 
is something to be said for the superintendent who, 
having fulfilled all these duties, in addition to his 
preaching, pastoral visitation, meeting of classes, 
and presiding at endless committees, hesitates to 
plunge into other work outside his routine. There 



A Superintendent's Burdens. 89 

might even be some excuse made for preachers, if 
superintendents, traditionally reputed to carry a 
three years' pile of sermons, and to use them in the 
fashion of an egg-boiler by a simple process of 
reversal. My father, however, was not of that cast. 
A circuit debt put him upon his mettle. An opening 
for a new cause roused all his enthusiasm, and if 
he found a tangle in the circuit administration he 
could not rest until he had completely unravelled it. 
A rapid survey of the tasks he undertook and 
carried through in the eight circuits he superintended 
will give those who understand all that is involved 
some idea of the burdens he bore. 

At Hackney, the building of the Cassland Road 
Chapel, Homerton, and the establishment of a 
second school for Ministers' daughters at Clapton, 
for which he acted as Corresponding Secretary. 
At Croydon, the remodelling of the interior of 
Tamworth Road Chapel, the building of a large 
chapel at South Norwood, and the division of the 
circuit. 

This represented six years of incessant and 
painstaking work — continual meetings with trustees 
and building committees, ceaseless correspondence, 
the settling of frequent disputes between men whose 
ideas of chapel building and ecclesiastical furniture 
were of the most diverse nature ; the contriving of 
means for raising money, and arrangement of 
opening services. At the end of this period my 
father shuddered at the very term chapel scheme. 
He had thrown his whole soul into the schemes 
already completed, and they had been carried to a 

G 



90 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

successful termination, but he longed for leisure for 
more profound meditation upon God's word, and 
for more extended pastoral oversight of the Societies. 
He declined at this time an invitation to Swansea, 
because the appointment was likely to involve the 
chairmanship of the District, and accepted thank- 
fully a call to the Glasgow, Claremont Street 
Circuit. But prior to accepting it he made a 
definite stipulation with the circuit officials. He 
was to be relieved from all anxiety about the circuit 
finance ; the treasurership of all Connexional funds 
was to be undertaken by lay members of the circuit, 
and he was to be free from all responsibilities 
except those properly belonging to the preacher and 
pastor. The conditions were agreed to by the 
circuit, and faithfully kept. My father was prompted 
in making thjs compact by a strong feeling that the 
burdens of a superintendent minister, the load of 
anxiety about the purely material and temporal 
concerns of the Church, simply suffocated the 
evangelist in him. He recognised the necessity of 
such work, and when it had to be undertaken he 
faced it resolutely, but after a spell of six years of 
it he longed for a period of purely ministerial duty. 
And in no circuit was he so happy in his work as 
during his pastorate of the Glasgow Claremont 
Street Church. He enjoyed thoroughly having one 
congregation to preach to, and the concentration of 
pastoral attention upon one Church. His ministry 
at Glasgow was fruitful in conversions. For weeks 
together souls were saved at the Sunday evening 
services, and on one memorable occasion the whole 



A Superintendent' 's Burdens. 91 

choir entered the enquiry room. Yet even here 
he could not overlook the opportunity of exten- 
sion work. He saw in a small mission room the 
nucleus of another church. He fostered it carefully. 
He secured a second minister for the growing 
society, and in due time the outcome was the 
building of a large and handsome chapel at 
Partick. 

From Glasgow to Birmingham, Islington was 
the next move ; — from quiet pastoral work, to take 
up again the manifold responsibilities of a large 
circuit. A great debt crippled it. That was cleared 
off, a substantial balance left on the other side of 
the account, and the way paved for a division of the 
circuit. 

But the most difficult task of all arose in the 
next circuit, Hull, Waltham Street. The chapel 
affairs of this circuit presented a unique condition 
of things. All the different properties were held on 
a general trust. It was unmethodistic, and it 
involved many serious inconveniences. But to 
abolish a long-standing usage, and to create a 
separate trust for each property was an undertaking 
at once difficult and intricate. Moreover, strong 
prejudices had to be combated. Previous superin- 
tendents had looked into the matter, and shut their 
eyes again. Indeed, an ex-President went so far 
as to say that the man who seriously tackled the 
problem would wreck his reputation upon it. This 
problem my father set himself to wrestle with. A 
disorderly state of things, whether in domestic or 
ecclesiastical affairs, he could not tolerate. The 



92 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

* 

work was arduous, and required unlimited patience 
and much tact, but it was carried through, and 
when my father left the circuit every chapel property 
had been secured upon an independent trust, and a 
new chapel had been built at Anlaby. The super- 
intendent's reputation was not wrecked, but the 
burden of this task told severely upon his health. 
He declined the charge of another large town 
circuit, and accepted thankfully an invitation to the 
quiet little seaside town of Filey. But even in this 
retired spot there was need of a wise superintendent's 
oversight. Clerical intolerance in the villages had 
to be reckoned with. The opposition was bitter and 
determined. In one instance a Methodist rented 
the old hall in a village, and was a mainstay of the 
Society. The rector wrote to the landlord that if 
he would give his tenant notice he could provide 
another tenant, a good Churchman. The plot 
failed. The landlord replied that he was perfectly 
satisfied with his tenant, but that in any case when 
there was a change in occupancy he should not 
require the rector's assistance. 

In another instance it was found almost impos- 
sible to find a site for a chapel. The circumstances 
under which a Methodist place of worship was set 
up in this village are very interesting. I cannot do 
better than give an account in my father's own 
words : — 

" In the year 1885, wearied with the care of 
large circuits, and especially with the difficulties and 
strain of Hull, Waltham Street Circuit, I refused 
an invitation to yet another big town, and elected to 



A Superintendent s Burdens. .93 

retire to the charming retreat of Filey. There I 
met with a sympathetic and spirited people, though 
few in number. I greatly enjoyed the week-night 
preaching, prayer-meeting and class, which, through 
a previous sectional treatment of the circuit, I had to 
mvself. I gained in weight, strength, and gladness, 
while I rambled in study, prayer, and praise, now 
upon the unrivalled sands, then upon the com- 
manding and exhilirating cliffs, and oft-times upon 
one of the finest sea walks in the world. 

"At my first quarterly meeting, in the Filey 
Circuit, I was somewhat amused to discover that the 
inhabitants all told did not number more than the 
membership of my late circuit. At this meeting the 
question was asked, ' Can anything be done to 
secure a chapel for Muston ? ' 

" Muston is a village about a mile and a half 
from Filev. When the question of a chapel was 
mooted in the quarterly meeting, a generous 
brother, who was a butcher, suggested that we 

should try to purchase of Mr. a certain wooden 

chapel, which stood disused on the South Cliff, 
Scarborough, having been superseded by an im- 
posing Gothic structure. The suggestion was 
accompanied with a promise of a subscription 
towards the purchase. 

"The owner of the South Cliff ex-chapel, Mr. 
Meggitt, lived at Hunmanby, a picturesque village, 
three miles from Filey. He was a Methodist of the 
third generation. His grandfather's house had been 
Wesley's home. Charged with messages of love 
from some of his former Hull members, I entered 



94 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

'The Villa,' Hunmanby, and found myself in the 
presence of a fine old English gentleman. 

"Our Methodist friend had retired, after hard 
toil, to well-earned repose, first to Scarborough and 
now to Hunmanby. At my second interview, with 
a generosity that was natural, and which was accen- 
tuated by grace, he gave me the Scarborough chapel 
for the use of Methodism in Muston. 

" Two difficulties were now encountered, how to 
get the chapel to Muston, and where to place it. 
We had decided which was the best site ; but how 
to get it was the puzzle. We accosted the owner of 
the desired site in one of his fields, and put the 
matter before him. He was churchwarden. After 
weighing the gravity of our request for some time, 
he said, " It's too gain the church." We assured 
him that w« should not hurt the church, and that, 
as Methodists, we were ' the friends of all, the 
enemies of none.' Although we asked him to pray 
over the matter, we could not gain his consent. 
But he promised to call a meeting of the Muston 
villagers, and try to obtain for us a piece of common 
land opposite 'The Lodge.' The meeting was 
called, and by a vote of five to one the land was 
voted to us. Our Primitive Methodist friends 
generously helped to swell the majority. Alas ! the 
meeting was in vain. Legal advice informed us 
that the lord of the manor alone could grant the 
land. 

" I wrote thereupon to the lord of the manor, and 
told him of the vote of the villagers, and enclosed a 
copy of their resolution. I received a curt refusal. 



A Superintendent's Burdens. 95 

"We next sought to purchase a portion of a 
sand pit at the other end of the village. But the 
terms asked were so high that an agreement was 
impossible. Here was a plight to be in. We had 
a chapel, but there 'was no room for it' in the 
village. 

" In our extremity, we returned to Farmer 
Foster, the churchwarden, and eventually he 
agreed to rent us the land, if the cottager, who 
was then using it as a garden, would consent. Our 
interview with the tenant was a success, and the 
site which we first desired was ours. 

" But now the chapel had to be transferred ; but 
how ? Captain Huntley and I and a friend at 
Scarborough held a prayer-meeting in the deserted 
sanctuary, and then set our wits to work. We 
agreed it would injure it much to take it to pieces. 
The ingenious Captain suggested that we should 
lift it bodily out of the ground, place it upon a 
prepared carriage, and convey it by road to Muston. 
Accordingly we requisitioned the services of Mr. 
Gardiner, a worthy Methodist wheelwright, and the 
carriage was made to order. 

"Day by day, by slow processes, and with 
mechanical applications, the house of prayer was 
raised and deposited, unharmed, with consummate 
skill upon its novel carriage. So far so good. But 
now the problem was, how about the locomotion ? 
This was solved, in the first instance, by Mr. Cole- 
man, of Flotmanby, who sent over as splendid a 
team of horses as any farmer could wish to have. 
They were duly yoked to the carriage. But, just as 



96 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

the whole structure was moved across the road, a 
number of bystanders broke into a loud cheer, the 
horses became demoralized, and pulled divers ways ; 
the axles snapped, and the noble animals had to 
return without their burden. Providentially for us, 
the breakdown was at the side of the road, so that 
vehicles could pass. Meanwhile, snow began to 
fall, and, by order of the Local Board, we had to 
have a man in charge by day and night. All these 
things, which seemed to be against us, were working 
for us. For six weeks our caretaker's fire and 
night lamps advertised us well. 

' ' At the end of six weeks the snow cleared away, 
and, by the aid of a steam traction engine, the little 
sanctuary started on its way. I remember the joy 
with which I walked on four miles to meet it, and 
how the snorting of the approaching engine was 
music in my ears. Yet another disappointment : 
when about half-way the engine broke down, and 
our chapel was again stranded on the road-side, 
but, as before, in a most convenient spot. 

" The next day the repaired engine was again 
attached, and Filey was reached, and the doxology 
was sung at the base of the hill, leading past the 
station. 

"The said hill had been newly macadamized, 
and the engine showed signs of failing power. 
Immediately, a number of fishermen brought power- 
ful hawsers and attached them, and many willing 
hands, my own included, helped the engine on- 
wards until the destination of the chapel-on-wheels 
was reached. Standing upon the carriage, I 



A 'Superintendent's Burdens. 97 

held a short out-door service with a hearty congre- 
gation. 

"The chapel was now on its resting place, 
after its nine miles' journey. Some old seats that 
had formerly done duty on the Scarborough Spa 
were covered with crimson repp, so that by the time 
new lamps were introduced and other adornments, 
the little place looked as smart as a drawing-room. 

" Of course, all this meant considerable expense. 
But subscriptions flowed in freely. On the opening 
day, although snow was upon the ground, and the 
cold was intense, the chapel was crowded in the 
afternoon, when the superintendent preached. We 
then repaired to a granary, where a sumptuous tea 
was prepared. At the close of the meeting, which 
was afterwards held in the granary, dimly lighted 
with oil lamps and candles, we found that we had 
more than met all our expenses, and were able to 
present Filey with £$ towards the extinction of a 
debt upon its chapel clock. 

" I was now able to write to the lord of the 
manor, and to inform him that we had secured a 
better site than the one he had denied us, and to 
add my belief that the time was coming when we 
should obtain by law what we ought to obtain by 
courtesy, — sites for our chapels. 

"The little sanctuary became a general favourite. 
A handsome Bible and Hymn Book, a Communion 
Service and Book of Offices, a Library, and other 
gifts were cheerfully bestowed. Missionary meet- 
ings and harvest thanksgivings were introduced, 
and a most vigorous Band of Hope was established. 



98 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

" For many a year this village was prayed for as 
a ' dark corner of the earth.' Now it is radiant with 
the light and brightness of God's salvation. 

"Financially, the village chapel has been a 
great success. From 1879 to 1885 the total return 
for class and ticket money was ^14 5s. 4d., an 
average of about £2 8s. a year. The income has been, 
since the introduction of the chapel, about ^28 a 
year. Including missionary and chapel anniver- 
saries, harvest thanksgiving, and sundry other 
collections not made before, about .£59 per annum 
are raised. For about £6 a year the place is kept 
going. 

" The chair which has been filled by worthy 
chairmen, at meetings in the chapel, is one in which 
Mr. Wesley was wont to sit in the house of the 
grandfather of the donor of the chapel. On one 
occasion, when Mr. Wesley had outlived persecution 
and was now popular, a fine lady desired to enter- 
tain him. ' Where do my preachers go ? ' he asked 

of his companion. 'To Mr. .' 'Then I shall 

go there too.' A footman was despatched from the 
lady's to bring him to dinner. He would not budge 
from the aforenamed chair, but replied, ' Love me, 
love my dog.' " 

From Filey my father went to Rawtenstall. 
Again he was confronted with financial difficulties. 
The chapel trusts were heavily burdened. He could 
not endure the idea of God's House being in debt. 
"Three things I hate," he often said, "dirt, debt, 
and the devil." A sum of nearly ^3,000 was 
required. The amount was raised, and without the 



A Superintendent's Burdens. 99 

aid of that financial bugbear, a bazaar. The 
question of bazaars versus subscription lists was 
carefully gone into. It was felt on all sides that a 
bazaar was in many cases an ingenious and subtle 
contrivance to induce a few willing-hearted people 
to give goods and purchase their gifts. A broader 
method of raising money was decided upon. The 
state of things was put before every family con- 
nected with chapels in need, with a request that 
each family would put by, week by week, during a 
year, some small sum towards the extinction of the 
debts. The method worked well. The people 
responded nobly ; collectors were appointed to call, 
as desired, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Many 
a working class family subscribed five pounds 
during the twelve months. Public teas and suppers 
swelled the amount. By the end of the year the 
debts had vanished, and a scheme had been matured 
also for building a new chapel in one of the country 
places. 

From Rawtenstall my father moved to Notting- 
ham, Halifax Place. It was his last Circuit. His 
health was failing. Repeated attacks of bronchitis 
had undermined it. He had no longer the vigour 
and elasticity of earlier years. Yet once again his 
spirit was stirred. Halifax Place was one of those 
huge town chapels, which have been regarded as 
the white elephants of modern Methodism. A small 
congregation, and a debt of nearly a thousand 
pounds fired the veteran superintendent's enthusiasm. 
Again he began to plan and scheme, and as a 
result the debt was extinguished, the circuit divided, 



ioo This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

and Halifax Place transformed into a mission 
centre. 

It will readily be understood that no man could 
carry through all the schemes summarized in these 
pages without meeting opposition and running the 
risk of making enemies. My father never spared 
himself, and he was exacting in his expectations of 
what others should do. Prepared on his own part 
to give until the "charity bag" threatened to 
swallow up the "household purse," he had no 
sympathy, and sometimes little patience, with 
stinginess in any form. He shamed many a one, 
by the force of his own example, into reluctant doing 
and giving. It was not a popular role to play. 
Ministers who did less and expected less were better 
beloved by the indolent and ungenerous, and such 
form an appreciable percentage of even Methodist 
congregations. It was his misfortune to possess a 
temperament which was singularly sensitive to 
criticism, though he never swerved from the path 
he felt to be the right one on account of it. Above 
and beyond everything he valued the praise of 
God. That was sunshine to him. The hostile 
criticism of men who disliked being raised out of 
the ruts, was but as particles of grit or dirt in com- 
parison. Yet a particle of grit in the eye closes it 
for a while to the sunshine. 

My father's public work was done. He could 
not have undertaken evening services and meetings 
through another winter except at the peril of his 
life. And he had no desire to die in harness. He 
longed rather for a few years in which, untram- 



A Superintendent 's Burdens. 101 

melled by circuit worries, he might give himself 
to study, and peaceful meditation, and correspon- 
dence with and visits amongst his children and 
friends, and to thoughtful preparation for another 
world. With a thankful sigh of relief he laid down 
a superintendent's burdens, and turned his face 
towards the setting sun. 




Chapter IX. 
THE WELL SPRINGS OF INFLUENCE. 



THAT my father exercised a very gracious 
influence wherever he went many will bear 
witness. That influence never waned. His last 
public act was to take part in the Covenant Service 
in the Tennyson Street Chapel, Nottingham, on 
the Sunday but one before his death. The con- 
gregation felt in that last service of his ministerial 
life a gracious power resting upon him and com- 
municated through him. I have described the 
soul-winning results of his early ministry. I add 
now by way of comparison an incident of his closing 
years. In 1896 he visited me at Leeds, and was 
with me on "Children's Sunday " (October 18th). 
He spoke to the young people in the New Wortley 
Sunday School that afternoon. Many of them will 
never forget the address, — so simple, so earnest, so 
heart-touching. It resulted in the conversion of 
several. The following year it was my earnest 
desire that he should be with us again on Children's 
Sunday. We were entering upon a Sunday school 
mission, and I knew that his influence would be of 
incalculable good. Unfortunately it could not be. 
Uncertain health made it impossible for him to 
travel. But that afternoon, and during the evening 
service, I spoke under the spell of unusual influence. 



The Well Springs of Influence. 103 

Reminding the school of our disappointment, I 
said, " I have no doubt my father is praying for us 
just now." That day between fifty and sixty 
children, elder scholars, and teachers were con- 
verted. On comparing notes afterwards I found 
that at the very hour I was pleading with the young 
people to stand up for Jesus, my father and mother 
were praying together, and praying especially for 
our service at New Wortley. 

A volume of my father's early sermons in manu- 
script lies before me together with many outlines 
of later ones; his published sermons, "Sabbath 
Morning Meditations on the First Epistle of Peter," 
"One by One," "Messages of Mercy," have been 
given to the world. Off-hand criticism might 
adjudge them in nowise remarkable, and indeed 
the best part has evaporated. These sermons are 
not pictures, equally beautiful whether the artist be 
present or absent, they are rather pages of music, 
marvellous when interpreted to the ear by the 
composer's touch, conveying far less when judged 
by sight only. I do not believe my father ever 
attempted to make a great discourse. Apart from 
his eager gestures, and persuasive tones, and im- 
passioned earnestness, half the charm of his sermons 
is gone. Heard as they fell, living, loving mes- 
sages from the preacher's lips, they cast a spell 
upon the hearers. And the secret of their influence 
was simply this, they were steeped in prayer. 

A gentleman remarked to me the other day, " I 
remember when your father was in this circuit (it 
was nearly forty years ago) he said to me about a 



104 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

sermon weVere discussing, ' I have been agonizing 
all nightoverthatsermon.' I was much struck with the 
word, and never forgot it." To my father, as a 
Greek scholar, the word had a special and familiar 
meaning. He had been wrestling the night 
through with the Almighty for a message to dying 
men. That was the first great well-spring of his 
influence. He was a man of prayer, and his ser- 
mons were redolent of its incense. How well I 
remember the inevitable post-script in all the letters 
received from him in my boyhood, " Remember 
Matt. vi. 6." It was advice prompted by the rich- 
ness of his own experience. 

The next source of his influence was tact. He 
was in touch with all sinful and sorrowful souls, 
and not less in touch with the buoyant life of young 
people. In this respect he travelled considerably 
beyond the stern puritanism of his father, and he 
exercised a proportionately greater influence. He 
recognised the need of recreation, and sympathised 
with young people in their games as well as in their 
conflicts and difficulties. An early photograph 
represents him playing chess with a young man 
who had been converted under his preaching. To 
his father chess was a delusion of the devil to 
ensnare unwary souls. It may have been in re- 
ference to this very picture that he wrote : — " I do 
not think it is worth while that you and I should 
have a controversy about a game at chess. I still 
say that there are three things I hate to see in a 
Christian's house — the chess-board, the pipe, and 
the spirit bottle." 



Th e Well Springs of Influence. 105 

To the second and third articles on this index 
expurgatorius my father maintained to the end of 
life his father's hatred. But notwithstanding the 
intensity of his filial reverence he kept his own 
opinion as to chess, and his sympathy with young 
people in their amusements won for him their con- 
fidence, and opened the way to lead them to higher 
things. 

This tact was won by experience. It seems to 
have been absent in the beginning of his ministry 
at Sheffield. He had the temerity to deliver from 
the pulpit a terrible indictment of ladies' fashions, 
and of social gatherings. It raised a storm of 
indignation, and in one instance to an act of good 
humoured revenge. He called during the week 
following to see his superintendent. In the adjoin- 
ing garden a young lady who had smarted under 
the sermon was watering the flowers. When she 
perceived her enemy, as she accounted him, stand- 
ing at the other side of the hedge, she promptly 
directed the hose upon him, and with such accuracy 
of aim that the preacher was obliged to beat an 
immediate retreat. His ardour for promulgating 
sumptuary laws from the pulpit was effectually 
damped. It may be that that hose-pipe did life-long 
service. He learnt in that very circuit that high 
spirits and innocent recreation could co-exist with 
intense devotion, and when he left he was the hero 
of the young people. It was a memorable service, 
when in response to his earnest appeal to young 
men in Carver Street Chapel, every young man 
stood up to declare his decision for God. The 

H 



106 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

organist was one of the number. A few months 
later he was drowned in Lake Windermere, but the 
intervening period was one of the happiest religious 
experience. Many life - long friendships were 
cemented in those days between my father and the 
families of the Sheffield, Carver Street, congrega- 
tion. The unique and indescribable kindness of 
one family in particular, expressed in deeds of ever 
widening generosity through all subsequent years, 
has laid three generations under a debt of deepest 
gratitude. 

To the end of his life my father maintained his 
sympathy with young people. He believed that 
the prosperity of any Church depended very largely 
upon its cherishing and putting into operation the 
religious ardour of its young men. He did not 
hesitate to, appoint men who, on account of their 
youth were sometimes frowned down upon, to 
positions of responsibility when he recognised in 
them a genuine earnestness. He believed thoroughly 
in the old paths, but he cordially disliked those 
paths being furrowed with deep ruts. And in 
several cases where he found the wheels labouring 
heavily, he mended matters by pressing into the 
service of the Church the sanctified enthusiasm of 
its young people. 

This readiness of sympathy made my father's 
influence especially valuable in the class-meeting 
and in his visitation of the sick. He abhorred 
regulation experiences, fashioned after the manner 
of a melodeon stencil, and like it, giving always the 
same sound. He looked for freshness, naturalness, 



The Well Springs of Influence. 107 

and spontaneity in the class-meeting, and he had a 
way of making the most timid members feel perfectly 
at home. And in the sick-room his presence was a 
benediction. There could be no doubt on the part 
of the sufferer by whose bedside he prayed that the 
petitions offered were not simply prompted by a 
faithful pastor's sense of right ; they were the 
outpouring of a soul that lived habitually in an 
atmosphere of prayer, the supplication of a prophet, 
who was on terms of reverent intimacy with the God 
from whom he received his commission to "comfort 
them that mourn in Zion." And that the sorrows 
of the people were not officially borne, that the 
pastor's prayer was not only the passing duty of the 
moment, I can testify as I recall how again and 
again he remembered at his own family altar the 
sicknesses and sorrows of the people to whom he 
ministered. 

Yes, tact was certainly one of the well-springs 
of influence. Sympathy with the sorrowful and 
sinful ; sympathy with buoyant youth as well as 
with burdened age. The practical outcome of this 
sympathy was the restoration of scores to the 
C hurch, who, through poverty or neglect, or 
some carefully nursed grievance, had fallen out 
of the ranks. With the avaricious and lazy, and 
with confirmed grumblers, my father had no sym- 
pathy, and here his tact displayed itself in apt 
reproof. " I wish I were a Methody parson," said 
a rough young fellow to him once, " three or four 
pound a week for doing nowt ! I'd preach plenty 
of sermons for twenty bob apiece." 



108 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 



" If you are a man of your word," was the reply, 
" you mean what you say. If you are not, you are 
not worth arguing with. I will give you thirty 
shillings if you will preach once in my stead next 
Sunday." But the young man preserved a discreet 
silence. 

Prayer and tact, and I should add perseverance, 
these were the well-springs of a far-reaching 
influence which made my father's ministry rich in 
holy results. The genius that glows in unexpected 
presentments of truth, or fascinating exuberance of 
phrase ; the sparkle and play of an ever-wakeful 
wit ; the depths of profound scholarship ; the tor- 
rential eloquence of the born orator, — such gifts are 
for the> very few. But prayer and tact and perse- 
verance are field flowers, which whoso will may 
gather. And if this record has any value, it is on 
this ground especially, — that it is the record of a life 
the beauty and fragrance of which are possible to 
all. There were no hidden cisterns from which my 
father derived his influence, no sealed wells. He 
drew from those perennial springs that lie ever open 
to humble souls. 




Chapter X. 
SUNSET AND AFTERGLOW. 



THE Wesleyan Conference of 1894 entered the 
following resolution upon the minutes : — 
" In granting the request of the Rev. John V. B. 
Shrewsbury to become a supernumerary, the 
Conference desires to place on record its high 
appreciation of his personal character, and of the 
faithful and valuable service he has rendered 
during an able and unwearied ministry of forty-five 
years. It cannot forget his untiring and successful 
labours in the vineyard of the Lord, his able and 
affectionate ministry of the word of God, and the 
influence of his pastoral intercourse with the members 
of the Church." 

The words of this resolution exactly express the 
nature of my father's work. Affectionate ministry 
of the word of God, and personal influence in 
pastoral intercourse, were distinguishing features 
of his life's service. He was not a Conference man. 
Ready to speak, and speaking readily when the 
occasion demanded it, he nevertheless preferred to 
be a silent spectator, watching with keen interest 
the drift of events. But his sympathies were undis- 
guised, and he did not hesitate to express them. 
He was a fearless Radical, and believed heartily in 
a bold and aggressive policy. In his attitude to 
questions which touched the relations of ministers 



no This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

and laymen this was especially marked. He believed 
in a full and frank recognition of the rights of the 
laity, and in reposing in them an unreserved confi- 
dence. The notes of one of his speeches in Conference 
on the order of Sessions lie before me. " Now that 
the question is raised," he exclaimed, "it ought to 
be settled once for all. Allow me, Mr. President 
and my brethren, to say this with the greatest 
distinctness, that we in this Pastoral Session ought 
to make a settlement, and we can. The simple and 
convenient order, to my mind, unquestionably is 
that the Representative Session should occupy the 
position formerly occupied by the Committees of 
Review. What bars the way ? Only the election 
of the President and the filling up of vacancies in 
the Legal Hundred. Now bear with me when 
I say — excejDt usage and sentiment there is no reason 
why we ministers should retain in our hands the 
nomination of a President, who is the President not 
of the Pastoral Session only, but of the entire and 
undivided Conference. He must be a minister. Is 
not that enough for us ? So with the members of 
the Legal Conference." 

It will thus be seen that my father was in 
the vanguard of reform. In other matters his 
views were equally pronounced. He believed in 
prophetesses. He would admit of no reason for any 
woman endowed with strong convictions and the 
gift of utterance being debarred by her sex from 
speaking either on the platform or from the pulpit. 
He was an early advocate of women's rights, and 
he maintained his views to the end. 



Sunset and Afterglow. 1 1 1 

In one matter my father left the permanent 
stamp of his influence upon Conference procedure. 
At the Sheffield Conference of 1889 his spirit was 
greatly stirred by the way in which the obituaries of 
ministers who had died during the yearwere received. 
Up to that year it had been the custom for the Secre- 
tary to read rapidly through the obituary notices 
forwarded from the various districts, the Conference 
representatives meanwhile listening with careless 
indifference, or chatting in very audible undertones. 
The attendance at that Session was invariably 
meagre. It was not within the power of human 
nature— even ofministerial nature — to give sustained 
attention to a score or two of notices, couched in 
conventional phraseology, and of necessity devoid 
of personal interest to the majority present. But to 
my father's sensitive feeling this listlessness was 
painful, and savoured of irreverence towards the 
sainted dead. On his initiation Conference adopted 
another method. A solemn memorial service was 
substituted for the barren reading of obituary notices. 
The roll of the dead was called over, whilst Con- 
ference listened in reverent silence. Brief testimonies 
were given to the character of ministers who had 
rendered signal service ; and the memory of others, 
equally faithful, if less distinguished, was embalmed 
in the printed minutes. A fruitless session was 
thus transformed into an impressive and inspiring 
service. 

And now the time had come when my father 
felt that he himself was brought within a measurable 
distance of that hallowed death-roll. In the autumn 



1 1 2 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

of 1894 he settled down in his last home. He chose 
a house in Balmoral Road, Nottingham. Its position 
exactly suited him. The Arboretum at one end 
of the road and the Forest at the other furnished 
him with meditation walks. He delighted to stroll, 
Bible in hand, amongst flowers and bushes and 
singing birds, reading together God's two books. 
His elder brother, Jeremiah, had become a super- 
numerary a year or two earlier, and lived but a 
short distance away. The two were inseparable 
companions. It was the joyous comradeship of 
boyhood again, chastened by the experience of 
three score years and ten. 

So set the sun of my father's ministerial career, 
in a sky bright indeed, but not cloudless. His 
broken health, shattered by repeated attacks of 
bronchitis, domestic anxieties, and bereavement, 
brought much trouble into these closing years. His 
only surviving sister died suddenly, at a time when 
he himself was confined to his bed. 

Within a short period there came tidings of the. 
death of a step-brother under tragic circumstances. 

Then his brother Jeremiah fell sick, and a 
lingering illness of some months preceded his 
death. The wrench was a terrible one. 

My father was now the sole survivor of his gene- 
ration. But these clouds grew radiant in the 
sunset hues. Every sorrow was a finger pointing 
forward to the tearless life ; every burden a fresh 
call to prayer. A man of prayer from his youth, in 
these days he seemed to emulate the old Puritan 
divines. He spent hours alone in rapt communion 



Sunset and Aflerglozv. 1 1 3 

with his Saviour, and his speech and manner 
bespoke the fact that he had climbed the steep 
track, and gained the heights whence afar the soul 
catches the gleam of the city of God. 

Very beautiful was this afterglow. The light 
was waning, but gradually, and life's eventide 
was filled with a deep sweet calm. Yet, for all he 
dwelt much apart ; his interest in the busy world 
around him remained unabated. He prayed more, 
he read none the less, — books, magazines, news- 
papers, everything that kept him in touch with 
modern thought and methods. His form was still 
erect, his blue eyes shot out the same keen glances ; 
only the snow-white beard, and a certain something 
in his manner indescribable, ineffable, marked the 
hours of sundown and the spreading afterglow. 
How vividly I see him standing on the pavement out- 
side his door on a sunny autumn morning, holding 
in his firm grasp the handlebar of my bicycle. "If 
I were two or three years younger," he exclaimed, 
" I think I should be tempted to learn." How his 
"good-bye" rings in my ears; how I see him 
again waving his hands to his children, and follow- 
ing them with affectionate and half envious looks as 
we glided down the street on noiseless tyres. When 
next I saw him he was all but voiceless, and death 
dews glistened on his brow. 

Hut in that mellow light beyond sundown he 
was still working. When not prostrated by his old 
complaint he was preaching every Sunday ; when 
unable to go out his pen was still active. Two 
small volumes of sermons, and many contributions 



114 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

to the "Nottingham Methodist" and the "King's 
Highway," were the outcome of these two years 
and a half. His contributions to the latter call for 
more than a passing word. The " King's High- 
way " is a Methodist magazine devoted to the 
exposition of the doctrine of Scriptural holiness. 
For many years my father had been an ardent 
believer in the doctrine, and an untiring exponent 
of it. He delighted in any meeting or convention 
which aimed at giving it prominence. In his 
preaching he dwelt repeatedly upon consecration, 
and considered the call of God's people to a life of 
consecration as important as the call of sinners to 
repentance. But he recognised that the doctrine 
was not, speaking generally, a popular one, and he 
was not blind to the reasons why. The following 
is his last contribution on the subject. It was 
published in the April number of the " King's 
Highway " of this year, three months after his 
death, and is reprinted here by the kind permission 
of the editors : — 

THE AMIABILITY OF HOLINESS. 
By Rev. J. V. B. Shrewsbury. 

" Amiability is often associated with weakness, 
particularly in the case of young men. To charac- 
terise anyone as ' an amiable young man ' is to 
suggest an innocence not many degrees removed 
from imbecility. 

" And there can be no doubt that in this age of 
boasted and boastful strength if a young man is only 
amiable he is greatly discounted and reckons for 



Sunset and Afterglow. 115 

but little. Simple goodness is regarded as very- 
simple, and, to quote a modern phrase, is ' not good 
enough.' It brings to my mind a pious young 
fellow who was of weak intellect, and a cripple 
withal, who asked me to forward his case to Thomas 
Champness as a candidate for evangelistic work. 

"Unless amiability is allied with strength in 
these days of telephones, microphones, and I know 
not what ' phones ' next, it is ' passed by on the 
other side.' 

" On the other hand, the most pronounced and 
pronouncing holiness without amiability is a jarring 
vexation, a very 'vanity of vanities.' A distinguished 
and humorous man, who has passed hence, described 
a certain person thus : 

" ' You see, he was a very kind, pleasant, large- 
hearted man ; but he obtained holiness, and then he 
became very disagreeable.' 

"Now, it is possible to read increasing strict- 
ness, a lessened laxity and frivolity of manners, into 
the word ' disagreeable.' Still, it is painfully true 
that it is necessary to press upon followers after 
holiness the necessity of a holiness which will 'make 
them nice,' to quote Thomas Champness. 

"There is one very dear brother known to us 
who so often in his addresses on holiness warns his 
hearers against ' nastiness,' as to lead one to think 
that he must have had a very special acquaintance 
with that particular quality in the past. 

"Amiability and true holiness are inseparable. 
If ' perfect love casteth out fear,' the 'fear' which 
' hath torment,' the torment or ' punishment' of the 



1 1 6 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

finally condemned (comp. Matt. xxv. 46, in the 
Greek), then surely it 'castethout' unamiability. 
Unamiability must bite the dust before ' perfect 
love,' if hell-tormenting 'fear' does. God be praised ! 
The strong and homely 'casteth out' remains in the 
Revised Version. Out then with unamiability ! 
Out with it ! Out with the disturber of personal 
and social peace ! 

"Is there any room for unamiability in this fin- 
ished description of holiness ? We mean, of course, 
perfected holiness — holiness so perfect as to allow 
the grace of God to make the very best of a man in 
' spirit and soul and body.' It ' suffereth long, and 
is kind ; envieth not ; vaunteth not itself, is not 
puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh 
not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of 
evil ; rejoicefh not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth 
with the truth ; beareth all things, believeth all 
things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, never 
faileth.' 

"Where does amiability dwell and smile and 
win if not in such poetic and realised illustrations 
as these ? ' All ye that are married, or intend to 
be married ' to entire holiness, note these ex- 
periences : — 

" Renew Thine image, Lord in me, 
Lowly and gentle may I be : 

No charms but these to Thee are dear : 
No anger may'st Thou ever find, 
No pride in my unruffled mind, 

But faith and heaven-born peace be there. 

The graces of my second birth 
To me shall all be given : 



Sunset and Afterglow. 1 1 7 

And I shall do Thy will on earth, 
As angels do in heaven. 

What ! never speak one evil word, 

Or rash, or idle, or unkind I 
Oh, how shall I, most gracious Lord, 

This mark of true perfection find ? 

Oh, that I, as a little child, 

May follow Thee and never rest 
Till sweetly Thou hast breathed Thy mild 

And lowly mind into my breast ! 

Fully in my life express 
All the heights of holiness ; 
Sweetly let my spirit prove 
All the depths of humble love ! 

Oh, might our every work and word 
Express the tempers of our Lord, 

The nature of our Head above ! 
His Spirit send into our hearts, 
Engraving on our inmost parts 

The living law of holiest love. 

" Even in ordinary Christians there is a blessed 
unity in the work of the Holy Spirit. The familiar 
passage of St. Paul to the Galatians is sadly mis- 
quoted. Even Wesley himself, with all reverence 
be it written, misquotes the passage, and gives us 
the ' fruits of the Spirit' instead of the ' fruit of the 
Spirit.' Said one old Somersetshire Methodist, ' I 
bless the Laird, that though I beant perfect in 
patience, I be perfect in love.' Not so, dear brother. 
If perfect in love you must be perfect in patience. 
' The fruit,' the undivided and indivisible 'fruit of 
the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kind- 
ness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control.' 



1 1 8 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

It is a case of ' one and all.' You cannot separate 
them in the everyday Christian. Entire holiness is 
the ripe and perfect fruitage of the Spirit. ' Where 
is ' unamiability' then?' 'It is excluded. By 
what manner of law? Of works? Nay ; but by a 
law of faith.' 

"To the law and to the testimony. One man 
professes entire holiness, and takes frequent oppor- 
tunities of avowing his experience of the blessing. 
But time and again he indulges in a habit of 
censoriousness. He sits in the judgment-seat, not 
of the Scribes and Pharisees, but of the very Lord 
Himself. No one is right who does not conform to 
his standard. He will not allow one who differs 
from him to stand ' to his own Master.' With 
words that are far from amiable, he delivers his 
opinion of his brother to his face, with uncivil 
bluntness, or, worse still, behind his brother's back 
to a too-willing listener. Such a one may be sincere 
in his profession of entire holiness, but he is un- 
questionably mistaken, and needs to adjust his 
spiritual latitude. 

"Another is peevish ; another is impatient of con- 
tradiction ; another is rash in his assertions, show- 
ing the unbridled tongue ; another assumes an air 
of superiority over those who do not profess as much 
as he does ; another is distantly haughty in his 
demeanour. Let not any, who thus display a lack 
of amiability in their dealings with their fellow- 
Christians, imagine that they are in possession of 
Christian perfection. Entire holiness and entire 
amiability the Spirit of God has 'joined together.' " 



Sunset and Afterglow. 119 

Correspondence with a large circle of friends and 
with his children scattered in all directions occupied 
much of my father's time in these closing years. I 
quote two or three brief extracts from his letters of 
that period. They are coloured with the sunset 
hues : — 

" Wait sometimes in listening silence before 
God." 

" Let everything you do be not simply harm- 
less, but, to coin a word, goodfull." 

"Account no man to be too low for Christ 
to raise him, even, in due time, beyond the 
angelhood." 

"The wounded hand smites to save, not to 
destroy." 

"Worried? A child of God to worry, that 
should never be. You believe God is your father, 
and as His child He will take care of you, but 
never worry." 

Flashes of humour, too, broke forth occasionally, 
side by side with sentences such as these. And 
sometimes gentle reproof and tender exhortation 
were deftly blended in a phrase which, humorous 
on the surface, held hidden depths of meaning. 

At the close of a letter referring to a gentleman 
whose help and sympathy had been invaluable to 
me, and to many a friendly talk and pipe enjoyed 
together, he enquires : " How fares your circuit? 
Remember me kindly to your chief helper out of 



120 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

your own home, who is often closeted with you for 
prayer, or for ? " 

And now I come to the closing days. In the 
latter part of 1897 my father was at his best. Not 
for years had he seemed so cheerful. Loved and 
reverenced by all his children from their infancy, he 
never seemed more loveable than in these beautiful 
days of deepening twilight. Suddenly the after- 
glow faded away, and with unlooked for swiftness 
night fell. In December he was preparing a paper 
for the Nottingham Ministers' Fraternal Association, 
on Professor Beet's much discussed book, "The 
Last Things." The paper was to be given in 
January. At the close of the year he wrote 
to the Secretary of the Association to ask that the 
paper might be deferred for a month. He wished 
to have further time for studying these last things. 
The paper was never given. Within the month he 
had passed from the region of dim speculation to 
the fulness "of the knowledge of the glory of God 
in the face of jesus Christ." 

In the afternoon of the first Sunday of the year 
my father took part in the annual Covenant Service, 
a service peculiar to Methodism, held from the very 
beginnings of the Church on the first Sabbath of 
the year, and constituting a combined dedication 
and sacramental service. He had always regarded 
it as at once a most solemn, yet most joyous cele- 
bration. Probably, if he might have chosen for 
himself his last act of public ministry, he would have 
asked that it might close in this very manner. 
Certainly in no other religious ceremony could he 



Sunset and A ftergloiv. 1 2 1 

have so appropriately appeared for the last time as 
in this beautiful and impressive and peculiarly 
Methodist service. 

This was on Sunday, January 2nd, 1898. The 
following day he felt he had taken a chill. 
Symptoms of another bronchial attack appeared. 
He retired early in the evening, and as he went 
upstairs remarked, "I shall not go downstairs 
again." On Thursday acute bronchitis set in. 
For some time he had been using in his daily 
devotion a collection of readings from Scripture 
for every day in the year, under the title " My 
Counsellor." On that morning the leading text 
was : "At midnight there was a cry made, behold 
the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him." 
In the afternoon he called my mother to him. " If 
God is calling me away," he said, "by this affliction, 
do you think Jesus will receive me?" Then, after 
a pause, he added, " It is a solemn thing to go out 
into eternity." Little by little the disease encroached. 
On the Sunday evening his youngest son went in to 
bid him farewell. He was going up to London 
early the next morning for an examination. " I 
shall hope to see you downstairs," he remarked, 
"when I come back." To this there was no response, 
but a little later, beckoning to his daughter, "Go 
down and tell Bert," he whispered, " that I have 
just been praying for his success in his exam., and 
that God will open up his path before him." The 
next day he could hardly speak, but his thoughts 
witc still for others. " If anything happens to 
me this week," he just managed to whisper, 



122 This Chance of Noble Deeds. 

" Bert is on no account to be told till his exam, is 
over." 

On the Tuesday morning my mother opened the 
little book, "My Counsellor," to read the daily 
portion to him. She closed it and put it down. 
To read was impossible. At the top of the page 
stood the text, " The Master is come, and calleth 
for thee." The next day, with a sweet, grave smile, 
he whispered to her, " My dear, I have been think- 
ing about you many times to-day, but I have been 
thinking about Jesus a great many more." And 
then night-fall came. Yet even as the darkness 
fell one gleam of light shot up. Speech had left 
him, movement ceased, but once during those last 
hours of mournful watching his lips parted. Stooping 
down over him I caught one word — " Precious " — 
(" Unto you which believe He is precious.") Once 
again opening his eyes he recognized a son who 
had just been ordained in the Anglican Church, 
and tried to utter a word of congratulation. Hence- 
forth all was still, save for the laboured breathing 
and the twitchings of the brows. In the noon-day 
hour of Friday, January 14th, a sudden flush 
mounted to his face, and the trembling heart- 
beats, with the gentle throb of a clock run down, 
quietly ceased. It was indeed night now. For us 
the beauty and lustre of the afterglow had faded 
into blackness ; for him in that moment broke the 
glorious dawn of eternal day. 



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